10 thoughts on YSU's win over SFU
by Joe Scalzo - "A blog about YSU Penguin athletics, not the insides of penguins." (Contact) | 155 entries
1. Saint Francis isn't very good, but that was exactly the type of performance Youngstown State needed entering its off week.
The Penguins scored on their first eight possessions, outgained the Red Flash 471-87 and never seemed to lose their focus despite playing in pretty awful conditions.
Yes, Saint Francis is a lower level FCS team, but if you're going to criticize the Penguins for looking bad in last week's Robert Morris (another lower-level FCS team), you have to praise them for dominating Saturday's game.
2. Defensive end Derek Rivers lined up at linebacker for several plays against Saint Francis, a wrinkle that allows YSU to put its best 11 defenders on the field, YSU coach Bo Pelini said.
"I thought he handled it well," Pelini said. "We're gonna have a package out of that and we wanted to take a look out of that. To do it, Derek needed to handle some new learning. He handled it well and he looked good doing it."
The Penguins have three really good defensive ends in Rivers, Terrell Williams (10 sacks last year, all in conference play) and Avery Moss (a transfer from Nebraska). Rivers was the natural choice to make the move since he's so athletic. Size-wise, Rivers looks a little like Browns linebacker Barkevious Mingo, a former college defensive lineman who stands 6-4, 240. Rivers is 6-5, 255.
3. Rivers had a pretty quiet day — he had just four tackles — but the first time I noticed him lining up at linebacker, LB Lee Wright ended up with a sack. So, at the very least, it has to be confusing to offenses, especially since Rivers is so disruptive at DE.
"It was funny watching him line up at linebacker," Wright said. "I had to tell him which side to go on, but he got it this week. He's pretty good."
Moss finished with his first two tackles as a Penguin — he didn't play against Robert Morris and didn't have a tackle against Pitt — while Williams didn't have a tackle, but was credited with one quarterback hurry.
4. YSU quarterback Hunter Wells didn't have huge numbers — 10 of 16 for 148 yards and a TD — but to my eyes, he looked better than he did in the first two games.
And while I've seen Ricky Davis run in plenty of practices, he looked even better in the game, rushing four times for 32 yards. It's a shame he might spend most of his college career watching from the sidelines because he has a lot of talent.
5. Third-stringer Tanner Garry was supposed to get in the game, but YSU got whistled for a 15-yard facemask penalty on third-and-8 on Saint Francis' last possession. The Red Flash then ran out the clock. When I saw Garry afterward, he bragged about how awesome his kneeldown was going to be.
Tanner Garry is a funny man.
6. Saint Francis quarterback Zack Drayer went 1-for-12 for 10 yards. That's the second straight game that YSU has held the opposing quarterback to one completion in regulation. Robert Morris QB Matthew Barr finished 2 of 11 last week for 16 yards, but one of those came in overtime.
Pitt's two quarterbacks, Chad Voytik and Nate Peterman, didn't exactly light it up, either. They combined to go 11 of 18 for 133 yards, a TD and two interceptions.
7. That's a pretty impressive three-game stretch, especially considering all the retina damage I got watching YSU's secondary for most of the last five years.
8. YSU begins Missouri Valley play in two weeks at South Dakota. In case you're wondering if the MVFC is good again, consider this score: Coastal Carolina 34, Western Illinois 27.
Coastal is ranked No. 1 in the coaches poll and second in the STATS FCS poll, but struggled at home against one of the MVFC's worst teams.
9. Saturday's game was my last one as YSU's beat writer — I'm taking a job at the Canton Repository in two weeks — and Pelini took a minute at the end of Saturday's postgame press conference to wish me luck, which was nice.
As I've written several times, Pelini has been the opposite of what we expected. Sure he's gruff, but from a media standpoint, he's been unfailingly professional and surprisingly funny.
10. I do have one funny story, though. I tried to reach him several times in the weeks leading up to his hiring at YSU and he finally returned my call on the night the news became official. I was walking out the MVR after getting some wedding soup when my phone rang and he said, "Hey, Joe, it's Bo Pelini. Sorry I haven't returned your calls."
No problem, I told him. It's part of the job.
"Well, I'm sorry I yelled at you about the stories," he said.
"Uh, you didn't yell at me," I said. "This is the first time you returned my call."
"Oh," he said. "Well, I yelled at somebody."
He still hasn't yelled at me, even when I wrote that he wore sweatpants at the MVR on a Friday night.