YSU assistant coach Carl Pelini glad to be back
By Greg Gulas
For the 11th time in his 32-year football coaching career, Carl Pelini has purchased a house.
The YSU associate head coach is hoping that his most recent purchase is his last.
“I’m happy to be back,” Pelini told the Curbstone Coaches during Monday’s final meeting at Avion Banquet Center. “This is home and I’m excited about the upcoming season.”
The upcoming season marks Pelini’s second stint at his alma mater, noting that a lot was accomplished during recent spring drills.
“We had a good spring,” he said. “Our goal was to be a more disciplined, physical team. We did get better running the ball and defending the run. Even after spring ball ended, we still had player meetings three times a week.”
Pelini just concluded five weeks on the road, wrapping up recruiting for the Penguins’ 2020 class while still looking to add a player or two for this season.
He lauded the addition of new strength and conditioning coach Terry Grossetti.
“Terry is one of the most knowledgeable strength coaches around,” Pelini said. “He’s trained 51 players for the NFL Combine and connects with the players. I feel the weight room is big in establishing work ethic, culture and discipline.
“I’m excited about the direction that we are headed. Everyone is walking with spring in their step and this is shaping up to be a very special season.”
While the Penguins do not have a money game this season, they will open the college football season on August 24 when they play Samford University in the Guardian Credit Union FCS Kick-off in Montgomery, Alabama.
“It’s nice to be the team that opens then entire college football season, but you don’t want to bring the players in too early,” Pelini stated. “We have two bye weeks and will probably have three practices done before we hit August.”
Pelini feels several teams can break through in the tough Missouri Valley Conference.
“North Dakota State and South Dakota State both lost quite a few players to graduation,” he noted. “Southern Illinois, Northern Iowa and South Dakota are feeling pretty good about themselves so this might be the year you’ll possibly witness a changing of the guard.”
Players to keep an eye on offensively include quarterback Joe Craycraft, running back Joe Alessi and wide receiver Sam St. Surin, each of whom had excellent spring practices according to Pelini.
“Defensively, safety Kyle Hegedus, linebacker Ray Anderson and end Justus Reed had a great spring while special teams are still a work in progress with battles still going on,” Pelini said.
The road to the play-offs remains a simple formula.
“We must be more consistent on both sides of the ball,” he said. “Last year, at times, we could score, move the ball and play defense. We must run consistently and stop the run on defense.
“We cannot get into long yardage situations and defensively, cannot afford to give up big plays. We must also manage third down on both sides of the ball.”
The Curbstone Coaches will break until their fall session in September, but will honor spring high school state team and individual champions in mid-June.