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Last chance to impress
Stage is set for annual Red-White spring game at Stambaugh Stadium
The Youngstown State football team will start the 2010 season as a big underdog against Penn State. The Penguins will probably be favored in several other games.
Coach Eric Wolford wants his players to have experience with both, which is why today’s spring game pits the first string (in red jerseys) against the backups (white).
“We’ve got two situations,” said Wolford. “We’ve got a Red team that should dominate, that’s supposed to win. I’m hoping this fall we have games that we’re favored in and we go out and perform well instead of laying an egg.
“We’ve got a white team that is the underdog. Are they going to rise up and do something and give themselves a chance to compete and be in the game?”
Today’s game, which begins at noon at Stambaugh Stadium, is the Penguins’ last chance to impress the new coaching staff before training camp begins in August. Considering Wolford’s outspoken desire to add talent (i.e., transfers), there’s a lot on the line.
“I like putting pressure on kids,” Wolford said, “That way, they get used to it.
“If a guy goes out here tomorrow and doesn’t perform very well, it’s going to temper our enthusiasm for him and what we expect from him and we’ll continue to look for another guy.”
As always, much of the focus will center on quarterback, where junior Marc Kanetsky is expected to start for the Red. Redshirt freshman Kurt Hess, who has split the snaps with Kanetsky this fall, will probably start for the White. Kanetsky has thrown just 15 passes in his college career and is the only quarterback on the roster with collegiate experience.
“They’ve done a pretty good job managing the game this spring,” said Wolford. “That’s something we emphasize. Especially with a young quarterback — don’t force the ball.
“Hopefully we can continue that.”
If two players are even at a position, Wolford has said he’ll go with the younger player, so there’s probably a little more pressure on Kanetsky today.
“I think they can both play,” Wolford said. “We’ll play whoever gives us the best chance to win.”
Wolford’s final spring practice Friday was a little light on spring, with near-freezing temperatures and a brief hailstorm. It was a rough day in an otherwise terrific three weeks.
“I want to see a nice day [today], obviously,” he said. “And I want to see guys stay healthy. We’ve been pretty fortunate this spring.
“We’ve got a few banged up but that’s from trying to be physical.”
He also wants to see the defense force some turnovers, the offense eliminate the pre-snap penalties that were a problem last fall and players on both teams play as if their jobs are on the line.
“The exciting thing is, each team has a role and somebody’s got to give,” Wolford said. “And more times than not, I’ve seen the team favored come out and not perform as well because they don’t take their opponent as seriously as they need to.
“I’m interested to see if that Red team responds or not.”
By Joe Scalzo