Published August 30, 2013
1. Because the game lasted three hours and because it took another 35 minutes to finish post-game interviews, I was still writing in YSU's press conference room at 11:35 p.m., roughly 25 minutes before our newspaper goes to press.
That's when offensive coordinator Shane Montgomery popped his head in and said (with a tube of Chapstick in his teeth),
"You're still here?"
"Game went long," I said.
He smiled and said, "We tried to run it a lot so we could finish it up quicker."
"Well," I thought, "at least he hasn't lost his sense of humor."
2. Eric Wolford is a run-first coach, but it's a safe bet he didn't want to run it 45 times on Thursday, compared to just 19 pass plays.
That balance was just 22-15 at halftime but it was pretty obvious to everyone that something wasn't right with YSU's passing game. Fortunately for the Penguins, Adaris Bellamy had a monster night with a career-high 203 yards rushing.
When YSU gets Demond Hymes back next week, they're going to have a pretty potent backfield.
3. That said, I have no idea what was wrong with Kurt Hess, who completed just 9 of 19 passes for 73 yards and two interceptions.
Hess doesn't deserve all the blame — it's not like YSU's receivers were running wide open on every play — but it was baffling to watch a four-year starter look like a freshman. Afterward, Wolford mentioned that he wasn't satisfied with the pass protection, but he didn't exactly bend over backward to defend Hess or his receivers.
Yes, Christian Bryan played sparingly (not sure what his injury is) and Jelani Berassa is nowhere near 100 percent. But every receiver except Marcel Caver saw extensive time last year and Caver has been part of the rotation since the spring.
There's no excuse for the passing attack to look so rusty and disjointed.
4. On the flip side, I was impressed with YSU's defense. I thought it looked fast and physical, particularly the defensive line.
It looked like Joe Tresey mixed in a lot more blitzes and stunts, but it also looked like a lot of the pressure just came from YSU's front seven winning its battles.
I don't know if that will continue to be the case when the level of competition rises, but in the 3 1/2 years I've been covering this team, that was the fastest defense I've seen. If Dayton's quarterback hadn't been so mobile, he might have been out of the game by halftime.
5. YSU's special teams were pretty solid, too. Andre Stubbs did lose a fumble on a punt return, leading to a Dayton field goal, but the coverage units did a nice job, Nick Liste had a pair of 60-yard-plus punts, Ali Cheaib partially blocked a punt and Joey Cejudo was 4-for-4 on extra points.
6. Bottom line? If YSU plays all season like it did on Thursday, the playoff drought will continue.
7. An NFL scout for the San Diego Chargers was in the press box scouting YSU linemen Chris Elkins (who is probably more of an undrafted free agent prospect) and Kyle Bryant (who isn't the college lineman Elkins is, but whose 6-7, 315-pound frame is perfect for the NFL).
YSU had three players in NFL camps this summer as undrafted free agents: G Lamar Mady (still with the Raiders), RB Jamaine Cook (who signed with the Browns, got cut, and re-signed last week) and TE Will Shaw (who originally signed with the Steelers, got cut, signed with the Eagles and got cut again last week).