Published April 19, 2012
Five thoughts following Youngstown State's spring football practices:
1. New defensive coordinator Joe Tresey drew some chuckles at his introductory press conference when he was asked to describe his personality.
"Um, very uh ... kind of laid back. Peachy. Just a feel-good guy," he said.
When Eric Wolford replaced Rick Kravitz with Tresey in the offseason, he went from "Aw, shucks" to "Aw, s---." As one reporter said after one practice, "I was there for an hour and I think he said more cuss words than regular words."
I have no idea whether Tresey's kick-in-the-butt approach will result in a better defense but his energy and urgency was the story of camp.
2. I think YSU will have the best offense in the FCS this fall. No team will run more formations or have more playmakers.
Every skill position player can score a touchdown and QB Kurt Hess looked like a five-year starter during the spring.
If they Penguins stay healthy, they can score 50 against almost any team.
3. The defensive line was better than I expected and the secondary was worse.
Regardless, I think the defense is a year away from being good enough to win a national title.
The offense is good enough to win a national title right now.
4. The best quote of the spring came from defensive line coach Tom Sims.
After the second scrimmage, I asked him who will get to the quarterback this fall. He paused for a few seconds and said, "Prayer."
That's how, not who. I laughed anyway.
5. I think YSU will go 8-3 in the regular season and lose in the second round of the playoffs.
I reserve the right to change my prediction following training camp.
In case you missed our Monday (April 16) paper, here was my breakdown of the roster following spring practice.
Projected starter: Junior Kurt Hess.
Notable backups: Sophomore Patrick Angle, redshirt freshman Dante Nania.
The skinny: A first-team all-conference player last fall, Hess looked terrific this spring. He should be the preseason player of the year in the Missouri Valley Football Conference. Angle is the clear-cut No. 2 and looked better each week. Nania has shown flashes but he still needs to learn the offense. Running backs
Projected starter: Senior Jamaine Cook.
Notable backups: Juniors Jordan Thompson and Torrian Pace, redshirt freshman Demond Hymes.
The skinny: Cook was overused last fall and needs fewer carries. When healthy, Thompson is a home-run threat. He needs more carries. Pace looked slimmer and more explosive. Hymes showed flashes before injuring his knee and ankle in the first scrimmage. He’ll be a factor in August. Junior Adaris Bellamy missed the spring with a knee injury.
Projected starters: WRs Christian Bryan, Jelani Berassa, Kevin Watts, TE Will Shaw.
Notable backups: Sophomore WRs Kintrell Disher, Andrew Williams, redshirt freshman WR Andre Stubbs, senior TE Carson Sharbaugh, sophomore TE Nate Adams.
The skinny: A deep and talented unit. Shaw is developing into a playmaker. Disher will see plenty of playing time; his 6-4 frame creates matchup problems everywhere. Stubbs is a big threat in the return game and is YSU’s most explosive athlete. If he stays healthy, he’s a game-changer.
Projected starters: Senior OTs Andrew Radakovich and D.J. Main, senior G Lamar Mady, senior C Mark Pratt, junior G Chris Elkins.
Notable backups: Junior Gs Andrew Sinko, and Fred Herdman, sophomore T J.P. May, sophomore C Zach Conlan, redshirt freshman T Brandon Ferguson.
The skinny: Sinko and Herdman saw extended time thanks to injuries to Radakovich and Mady. Both played well and will supply much-needed depth to a senior-laden unit. Wolford exits spring feeling a lot better about the line than he did at the beginning.
Projected starters: Senior DTs Aronde Stanton and Nick DeKraker, senior DE Josh Fenderson.
Notable backups: Senior DEs Luis Quinones and Chuck Lengyel, redshirt freshman DE Trevor Strickland and redshirt freshman DTs Steve Zaborsky, Emmanuel Kromah and Eric Myers.
The skinny: A work in progress. This was the biggest question mark entering spring. Stanton had a good spring and gives the defense the vocal leader it desperately needs. There’s no dominant pass-rusher but there’s good young talent here. It just needs to develop. Junior DT D.J. Moss missed the spring with a shoulder injury but should be in the fall rotation.
Projected starters: Junior Ali Cheaib, sophomores Teven Williams and Travis Williams.
Notable backups: Senior Dom Rich, sophomore Dubem Nwadiogbu, freshman Terry Johnson
The skinny: Should be the strength of the defense. Travis Williams missed part of camp with a concussion, giving Nwadiogbu some much-needed experience. Special teams standout Thomas Sprague missed the spring with a shoulder injury and could be headed for a medical redshirt. Johnson is raw but talented
Projected starters: Junior safeties Jeremey Edwards and Josh Garner, sophomore CBs Brandon Neal and Julius Childs.
Notable backups: Senior CB/S Deionte Williams, junior safeties Chris Charles and Twin Fernandes, sophomore CBs Devont’a Davis, Parnell Taylor, Jimmy May Jr.
The skinny: Lots of young talent but this unit leaves spring as the team’s biggest question mark. They looked better in the spring game after getting torched in the first two scrimmages. Offseason will be crucial. Could get a boost when sophomore CBs Donald D’Alesio and Jamarious Boatwright return from injury.
Projected starters: Junior P Nick Liste, senior K David Brown, sophomore LS Nathan Gibbs, KR/PR Stubbs
The skinny: Brown doesn’t have a huge leg but he was solid on extra points last fall. The coaches will be reluctant to kick field goals of more than 35 yards. Liste is one of the conference’s best punters. If Stubbs can stay healthy, he gives YSU a home run threat. Wolford spent extra time on special teams this spring after the coverage units struggled last fall.