Published September 10, 2011
First off, let me note that while YSU's 77 points today were impressive -- and it could have easily been 100 -- the Penguins did score 63 in a win over Central Connecticut State last year in Week 3, then went out and shocked Southern Illinois and everyone thought they were headed for the playoffs.
Then they lost seven straight.
BUT ... this year's team seems different, and the big reason is the defense.
Before the game, I said I had three questions. On Saturday, YSU answered all of them.
1. How will the secondary play?
The Penguins did give up 175 yards passing but only 40 of those came in the first half. Considering Valpo is a pass-first team (albeit a bad one), that was an encouraging sign. Through two weeks, the defense has looked a lot faster and more disruptive but the real test comes in the league, where passing reigned last season.
2. Will David Brown look better?
Short answer: Yes. He made all 11 extra points and didn't appear to struggle on any of them. It would have been nice to see him attempt a field goal but it was good to see him perform well and gain some confidence.
As a side note, the special teams also look a lot better this year, particularly the kick/punt coverage, which was a huge problem. And while Josh Lee (who had a school-record 96-yard punt return for a TD) and Andre Stubbs (who returned three kicks for 118 yards) got most of the attention, I thought the most impressive special teams play came early in the third quarter when Davion Rogers blasted through two blocks (he basically pushed both guys down) and made the tackle on a kickoff.
3. Will anyone get hurt?
As far as I could tell, no one on YSU got hurt, although several Valpo players had to be helped off the field.
I'm told Valpo is not on next year's schedule and let's hope they don't appear on the schedule again until the Crusaders get their program up to a competitive level. If not for the FCS rule that Division II/III wins can't count for the playoffs, YSU would be better suited playing Slippery Rock in Week 2. Or Mount Union.
Parnell Taylor scored YSU's only TD of the quarter so far, a 1-yard run with 6:21 left. It's 77-6.
Rather than do a push-up for every point, the ROTC has started having 11 people each do seven push-ups. I don't blame them.
Valparaiso tacked on a late TD to make it 77-13. That's the final.
I'll have more thoughts later.
I was wrong. YSU can easily keep it under 100, provided Valpo keeps tackling.
Torrian Pace scored on a 17-yard TD run to make it 70-6 with 4:43 left in the third quarter. It was YSU's first drive of the half and it involved 14 runs (all of them off tackle) and 80 yards. It took 8:48. With the touchdown, YSU sets a new record for points in a game, breaking the previous mark of 63.
I haven't seen this many off-tackle runs since ... well, since I covered Howland last night.
On a personal note, I was happy to see Pace score. He might be the friendliest kid on the team and he's plenty good enough to play here. Problem is, he's stuck behind Jamaine Cook and Co.
By the way, Michigan State held FBS member Florida Atlantic to one first down in a 44-0 win today. YSU had 20 first downs against the Spartans last week.
The quarter ends with Valpo facing third and 3 at the YSU 10. It's 70-6.
Here's a halftime thought: This might be the worst game I've ever seen.
Couple stats to pass on:
YSU has 476 yards of total offense, including 272 on the ground. Jamaine Cook (126) and Adaris Bellamy (106) have both passed 100 yards and both have two TDs.
Kurt Hess was 12 of 13 for 204 yards and two TDs in the first half and will display his tremendous clipboard-holding skills in the second half.
Valpo has 142 yards. QB Eric Hoffman was 12 of 26 for 94 yards and an interception in the first half.
YSU will obviously play a lot of second- and third-stringers, but the Penguins have a lot of players that they'd like to redshirt and I don't think they want to blow a redshirt year just so someone can play. My point is: It's going to be hard to keep this under 100.
The rout continues. Kurt Hess hit Andre Barboza for a 24-yard TD run with 12:27 left to make it 42-0. Remember the record for points in a half is 44 (see below).
I realize this is small, but Marc Kanetsky made a nice grab on an errant snap on that last extra point. And David Brown has made all six extra points, so, you know, there's plenty of praise to go around.
I honestly have no idea how Valparaiso gets anyone to come out for this team. Why even field a football team? It's not like the Horizon League requires it. That money could get spent elsewhere.
YSU blocked Valpo's ensuing punt -- you could sort of see that coming since the early first quarter -- and needed just one play to break the record for points in a half -- a 16-yard TD pass from Hess to tight end David Rogers. It's 49-0 with 10:54 left in the second quarter.
I wonder if the 1979 Delaware Blue Hens sit around with a bottle of champagne, waiting for the year they come off the YSU record book. Well boys, today's the day.
Ed Puskas from the Warren Tribune-Chronicle is sitting next to me and he said midway through the first quarter that the worst game he ever saw was an Allegheny-Oberlin game in the mid 1990s that Allegheny won 83-0.
"This is shaping up to be worse," he said.
Adaris Bellamy made it 56-0 on a 34-yard TD run with 7:17 left. One more touchdown and YSU will match its record for points in a game.
If you're still reading this blog, well, you really are a fan.
Valparaiso finally gets on the board with an 11-yard TD run by QB Eric Hoffman but Davion Rogers came right up the middle and blocked the extra point. It's 56-6 with 4:44 left.
Marc Kanetsky came in to play QB as YSU's second string makes its first wholesale appearance. He promptly handed the ball off four times with Bellamy going over from 13 yards out. David Brown added the extra point as YSU ties the school record with points in a game -- and needs just 27:02 to do it. It's 63-6 with 2:58 left.
The biggest margin of victory in school history is 52 points. That looks to be in serious jeopardy.
YSU needed three minutes and 14 seconds to score its first touchdown, with Jamaine Cook going over the left side for a 1-yard TD run on fourth and goal. Valpo's defense stiffened inside the 10 but it didn't look all that good before that.
Remember -- the Crusaders gave up 669 yards to a Division III team last week.
AND ... the Penguins needed fewer than 90 more seconds to score its second touchdown. Josh Lee returned a punt 96 yards -- the longest punt return in school history. The previous record was 92 set in 1965.
(In Valparaiso's defense, it was a tremendous punt. Just outkicked his coverage.)
(Ah, heck. It might not have mattered anyway.)
AND ... the Penguins needed about two more minutes to score their third touchdown. Cook scored on a 31-yard TD to make it 21-0 with 8:44 left.
AND ... the Penguins needed about four more minutes to score their fourth touchdown. Jordan Thompson took it in from 9 yards out. It's 28-0 with 4:46 left.
In case you're wondering, the school record is 63 points, set twice. The first was the playoff game against the Steve McNair-led Alcorn State team in 1994. The second was last year against Central Connecticut State.
AND ... the Penguins just broke the school record for points in a quarter. Jordan Thompson scored on a 10-yard run with 1:13 left. It's 35-0. The previous record in a quarter was 29, set against Northern Michigan in 1970. The record for points in a half is 44 set against Delaware in 1979.
OK, it's finally over. I was expecting this to be bad. But not this bad.
For the Ohio State fans still exhaling after the today's close win, I've got good news: Your nerves can take a break.
The only way YSU loses to Valparaiso today is if a giant meteor falls on the locker room.
So far, it hasn't.
YSU has an eight-game losing streak and the Crusaders have lost 22 straight, so this is one of those days where the Penguins can get their first win in almost a year and start getting ready for league play.
Here's three things I'm looking for today:
1. How will the secondary play?
Although Valparaiso doesn't match up physically, it will throw the ball a lot, which should test the young Penguin secondary.
YSU's secondary was its biggest weakness last year and those struggles continued last week as Michigan State QB Kirk Cousins completed 18 of 22 passes for 222 yards and a TD.
Three of the four YSU starters in the secondary are new this season and the one returnee, sophomore Donald D'Alesio, moved from safety to corner. That unit needs to play well today or it could be a big problem in conference play.
2. Will David Brown look better?
The junior kicker, in his first year after transferring from junior college, has not looked good throughout the spring and summer (outside of a solid spring game) and those struggles continued into last week.
He missed a makeable 39-yard field goal and had an extra point blocked (that one was not his fault) and lost his kickoff job to punter Nick Liste.
He needs to get some work and some confidence this afternoon.
3. Will anyone get hurt?
I'm sure Eric Wolford would like to play as many players as possible today. YSU lost WR Pat White against Michigan State but came out otherwise pretty healthy. That needs to continue today.