We are now under the one week count down until the 2012 season opener and Paul Chryst’s debut as the PITT Panther Head Coach. The Youngstown State Penguins come into Heinz Field Saturday at 6:00 pm for an out of conference and out of division game. Please try to make it to the stadium, Paul needs you to be there.
Here is the .pdf of the 2012 media guide for YSU. They are in the Missouri Valley Conference of the NCAA Football Championship Subdivison (FCS), as opposed to our being in the famed Big East of the BCS division.
YSU has an interesting coaching staff with some familiar names on it. The Head Coach is Eric Wolford who has “has moved the Penguins back into postseason contention and is showing the nation that the program is on the cusp of returning to national prominance.” Those are YSU’s words, not mine. I would have spelled ‘prominence’ correctly. He is married to Melinda Wolford and has two children.
Their Ass’t HC and DL coach is PITT alumni Tom Sims; their WR coach is Andre’ Coleman the former NFL receiver; their OLB coach is one of the famous Stoops boys, Ron Stoops, jr and their Cornerbacks coach is Glenn Davis who has been dead for seven years.
YSU was 6-5 last season playing a “multiple” offense which apparently a mixture of Ace, I, Flexbone, Shotgun and with the wishbone mixed in. The last team that played that mixture of offenses was the Tower Of Babble Wildcats. So, they return 10 starters from an offense that wasn’t too shabby all in all. YSU had a pretty solid running game in 2011 with 231 yards per game and they scored at a 36.2 ppg clip.
YSU also plays a 4-3 defense, which I understand because Dave Wannstedt lived by it. They return four starters from a defense that gave up 33.2 ppg and 436 ypg. Looking good for us, we could use a defense that gives up yards on the ground.
But enough about them.
PITT is going into this week of closed game-week practices with some real questions about the team. Here is the two deep as well as I can figure it out – it will probably be different come gameday but this should be close to what we’ll see on Saturday.
Quarterback – Tino Sunseri, Chad Voytik/Trey Anderson
Running back – Ray Graham, Isaac Bennett, Rushel Shell
Fullback – Mark Giubilato, Adam Lazenga
Tight end – Hubie Graham, JP Holtz/ Drew Carswell
Left tackle – Cory King, Adam Bisnowaty
Left guard – Chris Jacobson, Gabe Roberts
Center – Ryan Turnley, Artie Rowell
Right guard – Ryan Schlieper, Shane Johnson
Right tackle – Matt Rotheram, Zenel Demhasaj
Wide Receiver – Mike Shanahan / Cam Saddler
Wide Receiver – Devon Street / Ronald Jones
That isn’t a bad showing of talent there. There are some caveats though, Ray Graham is iffy at best to be able to play in this game. I wouldn’t be surprised if he sits it out completely. I don’t think Shell is going to redshirt this season so I expect the two deep for RBs will be Bennett, Shell and/or Crockett. We most probably will see all three get carries depending on the scoring pace we set.
At QB the pre-season 2nd string guy has been Chad Voytik since Trey Anderson was injured in the second week of practice. Voytik has played well enough to hold onto that spot since then but because Chryst and OC Joe Rudolph won’t tip their hands to the public we have to assume Voytik will be QB2 going into the season. Its a safe assumption at this point.
Defensive end – T. J. Clemmings, Bryan Murphy
Nose guard – Tyrone Ezell, Khaynin Mosley-Smith
Defensive tackle – Aaron Donald, Darryl Render
Defensive end – Jack Lippert, Shane Hale
Strong-side linebacker – Eric Williams, Jason Frimpong / Emanuel Rackard
Middle linebacker – Shane Gordon, Joe Trebitz
Weak-side linebacker Nicholas Grigsby, Manny Williams
Cornerback – Lafayette Pitts, Ryan Lewis
Strong safety – Jared Holley, Ray Vinopal
Free safety – Andrew Taglianetti, Jason Hendricks
Cornerback – K’Waun Williams, Cullen Christian
Look, it is a hell of a thing that LB Todd Thomas won’t be playing for at least a while and LB Ejuan Price is out for the season. In addition, last season we had LaQuentin Smith at LB who showed some promise but now he 45 pounds heavier, a DL and injured. Those LBs scare the crap out of me.
You can look at those defensive starters and feel good if you want to, or you can, as I do, have some trepidation as to how the inexperience is going to translate into production over the course of the season, and that may happen as the weeks go on. However, we are talking about the first game here and I think we’ll see some real “learning experiences“, which is another name for giving up big plays.
This will be a fun game to watch for a lot of different reasons. Paul Chryst’s debut; how effective our RBs actually are; what does the new and simpler offensive system do for Tino Sunseri’s play; how aggressive is the defense really going to be, and on and on.
The bottom line is this is a game PITT has to win and win somewhat convincingly to get the players to feel good about the annual changes in the coaching staff and this new staff’s approach to football. A squeaked out win doesn’t do it and a loss would be psychically worse than the Bowling Green game of some years ago. No folks, we need to get out ahead and stay ahead with a comfortable lead for four quarters. It doesn’t have to be a 40 point blowout, but we have to be in command from the opening play to the ending whistle.