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Football Terminology Has Changed Drastically In Twenty Years

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In the past few weeks, I have noticed those who announce football games on television have a few words that they now have to use every game.  Some of it is annoying, some of it is trendy, and most of it is unnecessary.  Ten years ago, Will, Mike, and Sam were the beginning of a good joke about three friends who went into a bar or something.  Even the names of linebackers have changed.

1.  Probably the one dumb thing a television announcer says at all levels is, “The defense has been on the field a really long time, they are obviously wearing down.”   Last time I checked, the tired defense was playing against an offense who has been on the field just as long.  Do offensive players have superhuman powers that protect them from fatigue?  I do not see coaches at any of these levels rotating linemen on either side of the ball, so they must be tired too?

2.  “Adversity”.  Any game you seem to be watching, whether it be an injured player, a bad run of plays, an injury, or anything that is going on in the team that is losing the game’s world – adversity is the buzzword that gets thrown around the most.  There is a time and a place for this word to be used.  If a quarterback has a parent unfortunately pass away and they are inspired to play the following week, they are trying to overcome the adversity in their life to contribute to the team effort.  However, adversity is used in much less serious circumstances and almost used as a crutch for any broadcaster to describe why a team is losing a game sometimes.

3.  “The Edge”.  I think Jon Gruden talked about the edge 40 or so times on Monday Night’s Washington vs Dallas game.  For years, it was understood that when a team ran a sweep, (not a jet sweep) that they were trying to get to the outside.  The outside was easy to understand as the area between the last up player on the line and the sideline.  Now that area is referred to as the edge, and it drives me nuts that it is said almost every play of every game by whomever is commentating.

These are just a few examples of how buzz terminology is transforming what we hear when we watch these games.  Remember the experiment when the games were broadcast without announcers?  I am all for  a second helping of that.

YSU Hangs On, Road Win Huge For Playoff Push

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Youngstown State University has not fared well against Austin Sumner and Zach Zenner.  Those two student athletes have spearheaded the South Dakota State football program past the Penguins for awhile.  Seems like Zenner has been there for about ten years.  Saturday, the Penguins successfully got that monkey off of their backs with a 30-27 triumph over the Jackrabbits in a matchup of nationally ranked teams representing the Missouri Valley Football Conference, aka the SEC of the FCS.

“I talked with Zach Zenner after the game and told him I admire his approach.  We often read about what is wrong and the bad things that happen, but this is an example of what a college student athlete should be and I would encourage the media to write about him”, said YSU Head Coach Eric Wolford.

Sumner did not play.  However, his backup, Zach Lujan gave the Penguins fits as he threw for 329 yards.  I guess if your name is Zach, you are sent to South Dakota State – automatically.  Lujan was under heavy pressure seemingly every down that the Jackrabbits attempted a pass.

Hunter Wells (below) played well for the Penguins (6-2, 3-1) and seems to have a lock on the starting quarterback job for YSU.  Wells played in a wide open offense in high school at Navarre that has poised him to be a throwing quarterback at the next level.  Wells threw for 256 yards and a pair of touchdowns, but more importantly, did a good job controlling the tempo of the offense, especially in the second half.

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With the win over the Jackrabbits, the Penguins garnered two MVFC awards.  Joey Cejudo was named the Special Teams Player of The Week.  Cejudo nearly had a perfect game in the win over South Dakota State. He averaged 49.4 yards on five punts, made a 32-yard field goal, was 3-of-4 on PAT kicks and had two touchbacks on six kickoffs. He had his best game as YSU’s punter just five days after he suffered a sprained right knee that almost forced him to miss the game. His last boot, a career-long 59-yard kick pinned SDSU at its own two-yard line and all but ended any comeback hopes for the Jackrabbits. He had punts of 44 (twice), 48, 52 and 59 in the game.

Derek Rivers was named the Defensive Player of The Week.   Rivers earned the first Defensive Player-of-the-Week honor of his career.   Rivers had a career-high eight total tackles, a career-best six solo stops and had three sacks as the Penguins defeated South Dakota State 30-27 in Brookings. Rivers had a sack in the first quarter on a third-and-5, in the second quarter on a first-and-10 and the third quarter on a third-and-9. The YSU defense had six sacks in the game, and seemed to be in the backfield causing havoc the entire game.

YSU welcomes South Dakota to Stambaugh Stadium for a 2 pm conference tilt.

Coach Wolford talked about the win.  ”We don’t ever practice on grass, but we went to a muddy high school field to prepare for the game on grass.  I was frustrated early, we were getting a lot of pressure on the quarterback and he was escaping. Once we tightened down our lanes, we were able to take the scrambling out of the game.”

 

YSU Starts MVFC Play With A 14-7 Road Victory

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Youngstown State University (4-1, 1-0) started their conference schedule on the right foot with a 14-7 win at #23 Missouri State.  The Penguins played brilliant defense in the win and the offense did just enough to secure the win.  Newly promoted Defensive Coordinator, Jamie Bryant, seemed to successfully put together a good game plan in showing blitz packages and coverages not shown in the previous four contests.

Junior Safety Tre’ Moore picked off two Kierra Harris passes including the proverbial nail in the coffin at the 2:21 mark of the fourth quarter to seal the win.  Harris saw pressure all day long from a vigorous YSU rush courtesy of Terrell Williams (above) and company.  Dubem Nwadiogbu, Desmond Williams, and Jaylin Kelly all recorded sacks for the Penguins defense.

Sloppy plays and problems on special teams allowed the Bears to hang around.  YSU missed a field goal and had a punt blocked in the fourth quarter which led to Missouri State’s only points.  Once YSU’s offense got the ball back, they successfully killed the clock to secure the win.

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Offensively, Dante Nania found Andrew Williams for an eight yard touchdown completion just over a minute after the game started.  The touchdown was set up by a 56-yard pitch and catch from Nania to Williams to the Missouri State nine yard line.

YSU would take a 14-0 lead into the locker room at the half courtesy of Jody Webb (above) busting an 81-yard touchdown run on a counter play behind Penguin center Stephen Page.  Webb would finish the game with 126 yards on 10 carries.  Martin Ruiz added 82 yards on 24 carries for the dynamic backfield duo.

Nania would finish the contest completing ten passes in 16 attempts for 160 yards while adding 20 yards on the ground.  Williams contributed 83 yards on five catches.

It should be noted that this win was YSU’s third to open conference play.  Following the first two conference opener road victories, the Penguins advanced to postseason play both times.  Good omen?

The Penguins will open their home conference schedule Saturday against Western Illinois with kickoff set for 7 pm at Stambaugh Stadium.  Show some support and head to the Ice Castle to root for the Guins!

Why The Big-10 Should Keep FCS Games On Their Schedules

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The Big-10 Football Conference, once a prestigious and worthwhile grouping of respectable teams, is now the laughing stock of the BCS.  Named a “Top Five Power Conference” because of past accolades, the Big-10 has a horrible chance at getting into the first-ever National Championship Playoff.  One of the moves that the conference made was the discouragement after the 2014 season to play no more games against FCS opponents.  Commissioner of the Big-10, Jim Delaney, decided that the non-conference schedule needed a serious upgrade so that teams can stay in the hunt when being considered for Bowl Games without losing credibility for playing the smaller schools.

My first attack is on Purdue, Indiana, and Northwestern.  These three teams have failed to even be competitive consistently through the last 30 years.  Purdue would not go .500 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference.  Indiana has been lousy since Anthony Thompson was their tailback in 1990.  Northwestern had a recent wave of success, but I can’t block out the memories of them being 60-point underdogs from my childhood.  They are back to being Northwestern, the double-digit underdog again.

On the second weekend of the 2014 season, the Big-10 was horrid.  Michigan State played well for three quarters against Oregon before being slapped around in the fourth quarter.  On the same weekend, Ohio State was outplayed by Virginia Tech.  Those same Hokies lost to East Carolina the following week.  The Buckeyes rebounded playing angrily against Kent State.  Interestingly, Kent is a representative of the mighty MAC Conference, ranked 16th in the power conference polls, right behind #15 Missouri Valley (the FCS teams).

Mr. Delaney…  I can understand you wanting to schedule tougher non-conference opponents.  Do you understand that you have to win a few of those games against “tougher” opponents for any of this to translate positively?  It is great seeing a .500 team like Minnesota get to a Bowl Game.  It means more money for the conference, I get that.  But Minnesota played a couple of non-conference cupcakes to get to that vaunted level of mediocrity (aka  ”bowl eligible status”).  So go ahead and throw a couple of SEC teams against Minnesota in a couple of years.  I hate to break it to you, because I am not part of the committee, but winning four games and losing nine or ten will not get you qualified for much except revisiting playing FCS teams again.

How Long Will It Take To Fill The Kurt Hess Void?

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Entering 2014, Shane Montgomery faces a big challenge – make Youngstown State’s lethal offense click.  The biggest problem with that plan is that Kurt Hess has graduated and can’t play as a Penguin anymore.

The leading replacements for the newly vacated starting quarterback position are a junior,  Dante Nania, and a sophomore, Tanner Gary.  Both were backups last year and both played when Hess missed a game-and-a-half with injuries.  The games they appeared in were both losses.  Nick Wargo and Ricky Davis were also on the Spring roster – lots of competition, lots of choices.

Montgomery is an offensive guru.  He can call plays and read defenses from the press box with the best of them.  He will be a head coach again within the next few years. Unfortunately, he has his work cut out this season – his fifth with the Penguins.  In his first four seasons, Montgomery had Hess – a luxury for any offensive coordinator.

Hess, for the most part, protected the ball and controlled the offense – two of the biggest tasks a quarterback is asked to do.  He hit some rough patches, especially in his junior season, but all-in-all, was the heart and soul of the YSU offense.

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Nania and Gary may develop, with experience, into the type of signal caller geared to run Montgomery’s offense.  Whomever Montgomery and Head Coach Eric Wolford decide on – they will have the luxury of growing into the role after the Illinois opener. The next three YSU games are against Duquesne, Butler, and Saint Francis before heading into league play.

Some of the things the future quarterback will have going for himself will be the return of Jelani Berassa, Nate Adams, Christian Bryan, Michael Wheary, and a full-blown running game with established backs in Martin Ruiz and Jody Webb.

Unfortunately, college athletics end for everyone in the same limited time span of four seasons of eligibility (minus redshirts and medical problems).  YSU will have to go through a little growing spell at QB.  An improved defense and established base offense should help the new quarterback, whoever wins the job,  mature faster.

The Rock And Roll Hall of Fame Lets KISS Implode

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Gene Simmons used to be cool, then the money found him. Paul Stanley used to be cool, then success ruined him. Kiss was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame this week, and the two governing forces of a 40-year run were the dictators that prevented good memories for the fans to relish in a moral victory over the critics.

Ace Frehley and Peter Criss are no angels. Their problems with substances have been well documented over the past 30 years. They, however, were half of the reason that KISS was inducted into the Class of 2014. For Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons to prevent the fans from enjoying the original lineup performing was hypocritical in the sense they have been using the crutch, and still are, that everything they do is “for our fans”.

I’m sure if you took a poll of KISS fans, the overwhelming majority would have voted for the original lineup to perform three songs.  Fresh off of a trip to Las Vegas, I would have bet my life savings that if it were lucrative enough of a demand, Simmons would have jumped at the chance.

Heading out on a tour with Def Leppard (who will open?), KISS is using Tommy Thayer on guitar and Eric Singer playing the drums.  Singer and Thayer are talented musicians, don’t misunderstand the respect factor for them.  However, they are borrowing the identity of a couple of Hall of Famers to succeed.  Kiss could use anybody as long as they are wearing the makeup, nobody cares much.  Nobody except the die hard KISS Army.  The once powerful legion is sure to diminish because the stubborn star child and greedy demon looked bad leading up to this induction.

When the hardware was handed out on Thursday night, the four original members stood tall and proud, united, albeit by force.  Frehley has been quoted as saying he could “give a shit less” but felt the fans were the ones being punished by the two power mongers.  Criss just looked happy to be involved in any way.

The bottom line KISS fans, is now, how long will you watch Simmons and Stanley and their rotating cast of hired help prosper off of ten years that built 40?  Maybe they can let David Letterman put the cat makeup on or let Cher be Ace Frehley for the new tour. If it has an inkling of financial potential, Simmons is in.  If Simmons is in, Stanley is in.  Paul is too smart to know that Gene is a financial machine to impede his crazy manipulations.

Good luck to the LA KISS, their latest financial endeavor.  They surely will hold nothing on the Mahoning Valley Thunder except that KISS logo on the helmets (that Frehley designed) will now draws suckers.  I admit, I was a sucker for years, but after this debacle, I am moving on.

Cole And Hain Power Penguins Over Detroit

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Youngstown State University has not had the best of luck when facing Detroit in Horizon League Basketball games.  The Penguins dropped their last four contests to the Titans.  Things were different Saturday night.  YSU didn’t look like a tribe of dwarves looking up at a gang of giants.

The other thing Detroit did not have was Ray McCallum.  The 2012-13 Horizon League Player of The Year skipped town on his old man for a beach house in Sacramento and a job playing for the Kings of the NBA.

To make things better, the Penguins were sporting some brand new uniforms (see photos).  They work.  YSU 77, Detroit 63.

“We are 1-0, so they work”, said Cole.

The Penguins opened up the game with a 9-4 spurt, but trailed 19-17 with 7:36 left in the opening half.  With 6:47 left, DJ Cole was fouled driving to the hoop and converted a pair of free throws to tie the game at 19.  After a Penguin turnover and a Titan bucket, the Kamren Belin hit the second of two free throws.

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Solid defense by YSU then set up a shot clock violation against Detroit.  With just under four minutes in the half, Kendrick Perry exploded to the hoop and scored to hand the Penguins back a 22-21 lead.  The Penguins, behind seven points from Perry, held a 28-26 lead at the intermission.

In the second half, YSU started to pull away.  Cole was a definite catalyst both shooting and passing, as well as, hustling.  With 11:54 left in the game, the Penguins were ahead 47-39 behind Cole’s eleven second half points.

“They were getting tired, so we kept running”, said Cole.  ”We really didn’t make any adjustments at the half, but our shots were just falling.”

The Penguins would maintain  51-47 lad with nine minutes left in the game.  Perry scooted the baseline on a nice reverse layup to stake the Penguins to the four point margin.  Coming out of a timeout, Ryan Weber nailed a three to put the ‘Guins up seven, 54-47.

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Weber would hit another three for the sixth consecutive Penguin point.  Bobby Hain, reacting to the pep band’s chants of “Bobby, Bobby”, responded scoring the next five points to build the lead to 14 points at 66-52, but with 4:45 left in the game Juwan Howard, Jr. collected his 19th point to keep Detroit around.

“Typical Hoizon League, 40-minute bloodbath”, said Coach Jerry Slocum.  ”We shared the basketball.  I thought that Kam {Belin} and Ryan {Weber} did a really good job tonight.”

With four minutes left in the game, Cole stole a pass on the Detroit end and threw an outlet to Perry streaking up the left side.  Perry was fouled hard and the refs were back at the video monitor.  The result was a flagrant one foul (two shots and the ball- courtesy Kyle Kroynovich).

The Penguins (12-8, 3-2) were lead by Cole who notched 22 points, a career high.  Rising folk hero,Hain added 18 and Kendrick Perry added 12.

Detroit got 20 from Howard.

Eric Wolford Staying Home

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Youngstown State University has confirmed that Head Football Coach, Eric Wolford, will remain in charge of the football program.  Wolford has compiled a 24-21 record since taking over for Jon Heacock four seasons ago.

Wolford, a tireless recruiter, has surrounded himself with good people to revitalize the Penguins football program.  He has often been quoted as saying that nothing except winning a championship is acceptable.  The Penguins inched closer to that goal in 2013, narrowly missing a playoff bid.

Trevor Parks, the Sports Information Director at YSU commented on the recent developments.

“Details by both sides will be worked out soon”, said Parks of the extension.  ”Coach Wolford will be YSU’s football coach moving into the foreseeable future.”

Congratulations Coach Wolford!

YSU Football Winter Notes

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Now that the 2013 season is well-behind, reflection and awards are handed out. Youngstown State University fell just short of the goal – making the playoffs, but there was plenty of positive that needs to be recognized.

For starters, the Penguins finished the season 8-4, winning two of every three games they played.  More impressively is that the Penguins four losses, in hindsight, were to the team that won the Rose Bowl (Michigan State), the team that won the FCS Championship (North Dakota State), a team that advanced past the first round of the FCS Playoffs (South Dakota State), and a team that lost three conference overtime games in a row setting a record (UNI).

If the UNI loss seems like the one that got away, we later learned that Kurt Hess played the entire second half hurt, forcing the Penguins into a one-dimensional attack of just running.  Coach Eric Wolford never pinned that loss on his quarterback, he took the blame for it, saying “This one is on me”.  It came to light almost a whole week later that Hess was indeed injured.

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This group of seniors (above) will be a tough bunch to replace.  Hess started all four years he was here.  But some of the unheralded players – the limping DJ Moss, the banged-up Dom Rich, the falling out of grace, yet remaining a team player, Torrian Pace, and the versatile Carson Sharbaugh will all be missed.  Kyle Sirl ended up being one of my favorite all-time Penguins because he was fighting no matter what the score.

It was at East Lansing that I started developing such a respect for Sirl.  Trailing Michigan State 35-10, Sirl came toward the sidelines, winded, beat up, and looked at me saying something along the lines of “We are going to make a run”.  It would be understated to say he wasn’t giving it his all.  YSU ended up losing 55-17.  They did however, gain almost 100 yards more on the ground than Michigan would against a stingy Spartans defense.

On to the awards.  As recently as today, several Penguins have received postseason awards.  Hess was named to the FCS ADA Academic All-Star Team.  Chris Elkins was named a Second-Team-All American by The Associated Press and Third Team by The Sports Network.  Kyle Bryant was selected to play in the prestigious East-West Shrine Game, Elkins would later be named to join Bryant.  Jelani Berassa was given another year of eligibility.  Martin Ruiz, who finished tied for third for the Jerry Rice Awardand Jameel Smith made it onto the MVFC All-Newcomer team.

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The coaching staff for the Penguins, seems to remain in place, for now.  Ron Strollo has given Wolford a vote of confidence by publicly stating that he hopes Wolford is coaching the Penguins for a very long time.  Wolford’s biggest steps of growth as a head coach were made this season.  He seemed to be looser with the players, less vocal with the media, and was able to pinpoint his teams strengths from week-to-week with pretty good accuracy.  Injuries are a part of the game, and adverse injuries, like the Hess situation the last three weeks, cannot be the grounds for calling Wolford or any of his coaches unworthy.  Ride the horse that got you there.  Hess was the horse, he just had bad timing with an uncontrollable injury.

The four new coaches – Mangino, Gallon, Beathard, and Bryant did good work for Wolford.  Bricillo, Cochran, Stoops, Montgomery, Kopp, Davis, And Sims are a great supporting cast and the new guys enhanced the overall product.

2014 is right around the corner.  Shane Montgomery is going to have the hardest assignment as an offensive coordinator losing Kurt Hess.  As they recruit, they know what they need.  Best of luck signing the players to push it to the next level.  Oh, and 8-4 really wasn’t too bad!

YSU’s Shawn Amiker Honored With Player of The Week Honor

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Youngstown State junior forward Shawn Amiker (Oak Park, Mich./Ferndale) has been named the Horizon League Men’s Basketball Player of the Week, while UIC guard Pat Birt (Plano, Texas/East) has been named the Freshman of the Week, for the week of Dec. 23-29. The award is the first for both Amiker and Birt.

 

Returning from the holiday break, Youngstown State (9-6) rolled in its final non-conference game, 85-59, over South Dakota.   Amiker played just 18 minutes against South Dakota, but notched a career-high 20 points. Coming off the bench, Amiker went 8-of-9 from the floor while collecting a team-high seven rebounds.

 

Emerging as the Penguins’ sixth man, Amiker now has four games this year with 10 or more points off the bench and five total. The junior has posted consecutive double-digit scoring efforts for the second time this season after he scored 10 at St. John’s.