TERRE HAUTE —
If Youngstown State’s football team was a house, the best way to describe it would be that it has good bones.
The Penguins don’t have eye-popping curb appeal with a spectacular player or a flashy system, but the structure YSU tries to build its program on is sound. YSU likes to run the ball first and has a dependable, veteran quarterback if they go to the air. On the defensive side, they stop the run and make teams throw.
Solid, but unspectacular, the Penguins are hoping their sturdy foundation can take them into the Football Championship Subdivisions playoffs for the first time since 2006.
Indiana State, who hosts YSU in today’s homecoming contest, is obviously seeking the same goal. Today’s 3 p.m. contest will go a long way to determine which team has a better chance of making the 24-team FCS playoff field.
For ISU (1-3) to be successful, it must put the Penguins in a situation where they’re forced to deviate from their core gameplan, but that won’t be easy. The Penguins are not prone to hurting themselves.
Quarterback Kurt Hess is a four-year starter and is one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the MVFC. Hess has thrown 10 touchdown passes against just two interceptions. He’s thrown for 1,026 yards overall.
“Hess is a really good player. He’s effective, he’s accurate and he makes good decisions. The fact that he knows what to expect coming in here is a real positive for them,” ISU coach Mike Sanford said.
Hess is solid, but YSU likes to run the ball and the Penguins have unveiled freshman Martin Ruiz this season after years of reliance on Jamaine Cook, who got a long look from the Cleveland Browns in the NFL preseason. Ruiz has rushed for 350 yards and seven touchdowns.
Another sign of YSU’s good bones? The Penguins (4-1, 1-0) don’t hurt themselves. They are ranked fourth in the nation with just 3.6 penalties per game and had just one in a 28-27 win at Southern Illinois last Saturday. The Penguins had just one turnover against the Salukis.
YSU’s most obvious deficiency plays to one of the Sycamores’ strengths. YSU is ranked 105th in the nation in passing yards allowed at 270.4 per game. SIU quarterback Kory Faulkner threw for 348 yards in a losing effort last week.
“We’ve seen statistically what they’ve given up and what they haven’t. We’re excited to compete against their secondary and against their defense,” said ISU wide receiver Demory Lawshe, who might play today after suffering a frightful concussion in the second quarter at Tennessee Tech last week.
“Even though they’ve given up some yards passing, you never know what a team is going to put out there. They could be giving us a whole new look. We’re excited to attack deep and keep our identity as an offense,” he added.
While YSU’s pass defense struggles offer an enticing statistic for ISU to drink in, it could come from a poisoned chalice if ISU can’t protect quarterback Mike Perish. The Sycamores were inconsistent in keeping Tennessee Tech’s pass rush away from Perish last week — something that didn’t likely escape the Penguins’ notice. YSU has eight quarterbacks sacks so far this season.
“They are a physical team up front with good pass rushers and they do a nice job with their blitz package. We have to be able to block. In general, we have to be a team on normal downs where they don’t know if we’re throwing or running,” Sanford said.
YSU loomed large in ISU’s failure to gain a FCS playoff bid in 2012. Needing just one victory entering its season finale at Stambaugh Stadium, the Sycamores fizzled in a 27-6 loss. It turned out to be the last game of Trent Miles’ coaching tenure.
“It’s definitely still in our minds. That one hurt us. We had to win it to make the playoffs. It’s a redemption game and a little payback. We’re definitely looking forward to it,” said ISU linebacker Kendall Walker, who leads the Sycamores with 28 tackles.
The rematch with YSU is just one layer of subtext. It’s ISU’s conference opener — most MVFC teams started conference play last week — and it’s the first time Homecoming coincided with ISU’s conference opener since 1997.
“It’s a lot to live up to, but it’s exciting. It’s what you want. You want your first conference game to be Homecoming in front of a big crowd. You want to set the tone on the field for the conference. Why not do it during Homecoming?” Lawshe said.
TERRE HAUTE —
If Youngstown State’s football team was a house, the best way to describe it would be that it has good bones.
Immense power: A leaner A.J. Reed making play as elite prospect
Reed took his talents to Kentucky and the Southeastern Conference in 2011 and hasn’t looked back in the baseball sense. After a standout career at Terre Haute South — he was Indiana’s Player of the Year in 2011 — area fans had an idea of the wind Kentucky was sowing when it coaxed Reed to Lexington, Ky.
METRO ROUNDUP: Odum shines in Portsmouth Invitational
Former Indiana State guard Jake Odum had a productive first night at the Portsmouth Invitational late Thursday.
The Terre Haute native scored 16 points, had six assists and three steals for the Portsmouth Partnership team in its 88-81 victory over Cherry Bekaert.
ISU falls to Canisius in first of three-game road series
The Indiana State baseball team fell behind early and never could get the lead as host Canisius posted a 3-1 victory in the opener of a three-game series Friday at Demske Sports Complex.
The Sycamores (24-11) and Griffins (21-13) will meet again at 2 p.m. today, but the venue will switch to Dwyer Stadium in Batavia, N.Y. The same two teams also will play Sunday back at Demske Sports Complex in a noon start.
Saint Mary-of-the-Woods sweeps doubleheader over Rose-Hulman
Over the years, defeating its crosstown rival has not usually been easy for Saint Mary-of-the-Woods or Rose-Hulman when they’ve met in college softball.
But on Wednesday afternoon at The Woods, the home team made its doubleheader sweep look easy to first-year coach Mark Feller with five-inning decisions of 10-0 and 11-1.
Terre Haute North grad O'Leary to transfer from Loyola
Matt O’Leary is one of three men's basketball players at Loyola recently granted a release from his scholarship from the Missouri Valley Conference school.
The former Terre Haute North standout told the Tribune-Star he doesn’t yet know his next move.
Rose-Hulman, Woods to face off on softball diamond
The Rose-Hulman softball team will visit a familiar foe today when the Engineers take on crosstown rival Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College in a nonleague doubleheader.
ISU baseball holds off Eastern Illinois for 24th win
Indiana State freshman left-hander Ryan Keaffaber won his first game as a Sycamore and senior catcher Mike Fitzgerald went 3 for 3 as ISU defeated host Eastern Illinois 6-4 in college baseball Tuesday.
Top returners lead Cream over Crimson in Hoosiers' spring game
The Cream team at Saturday’s Cream and Crimson intrasquad game had Indiana’s top returning rusher and receiver and the Hoosiers’ top-rated passer from last season.
No surprise, then, that Tevin Coleman, Shane Wynn and Tre Roberson guided the Cream to a resounding 24-14 win over the Crimson.
Rose-Hulman baseball gets wild doubleheader sweep
Host Rose-Hulman came back from an early six-run deficit in the first game Saturday and went on to a 13-12, 7-1 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference baseball sweep over Mount St. Joseph.
The wild opener featured a Rose-Hulman comeback from an 8-2 deficit and included 18 hits and two school records for the Engineers.
METRO ROUNDUP: ISU softball earns doubleheader sweep at Missouri State
Yvette Alvarez’s one-hit shutout capped a dominant day of pitching Saturday as Indiana State swept a Missouri Valley Conference softball doubleheader at Missouri State by scores of 6-1 and 4-0.
“We pitched well,” coach Shane Bouman said. “Both Taylor Lockwood in the first game and Yvette Alvarez in the second game threw great. When you pitch good and you play good defense and get some key hits, good things are going to happen.
ISU football set for first spring scrimmage
Thanks to a limited number of available offensive linemen — a group that will at least double in numbers in the fall with the addition of recruits and currently injured players — the Sycamores won’t have a full-scale scrimmage, but will still intersperse scrimmage plays (with officials) among other practice drills.
“We’re thin,” coach Mike Sanford admitted after practice Thursday. “The scrimmage will be part of practice — probably 30 or 40 plays altogether. We only have five to seven healthy offensive linemen, so we can’t go [in a scrimmage format] for long stretches of time.”
METRO ROUNDUP: Waltman's funeral Saturday at Indianapolis
Royce Waltman’s visitation will be from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday at St. Luke’s Methodist Church at 100 E. 86th Street, Indianapolis.
ISU baseball falls to Vanderbilt 6-2
The seventh-ranked Vanderbilt Commodores took control early to defeat the Indiana State Sycamores 6-2
ISU baseball sweeps doubleheader against Wichita State
Indiana State baseball coach Mitch Hannahs finally got what he’s been looking for from the Sycamores’ Friday and Saturday starters ... and it couldn’t have come at a better time.
Preseason Missouri Valley Conference favorite Wichita State is in town for a crucial series. With ISU 2-4 in the league, it was vital for the Sycamores to validate their better-than-expected form in nonconference play with MVC success in Saturday’s doubleheader at Bob Warn Field.
METRO ROUNDUP: Rose-Hulman's nine-game winnings streak snapped
Rose-Hulman had its nine-game winning streak snapped with two tightly contested losses at defending Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference champion Manchester on Saturday.
Sycamores get commitment from junior-college point guard
Following Indiana State’s loss to Marquette in the WNIT, coach Teri Moren touched on the future of the program after the loss of Sycamore senior Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir.
Prusator gives ISU a shooter for 2015
Grant Prusator, a native of Rochelle, Ill., has made a verbal commitment to play basketball for Indiana State starting in the 2014-15 season. He will have three years of eligibility with the Sycamores as he played just one year for Highland Community College.
Metro sports: Locks of Love tournament today at Memorial Stadium
The Indiana State Women’s Soccer team will host its annual Locks of Love tournament today. The 4th annual event will begin at 9 a.m. at Memorial Stadium.
Indiana State secondary could be mending into a strength
During Indiana State’s injury-ravaged 2013 season, there wasn’t a unit on either side of the ball that was spared from the carnage.
But if one had to be singled out as hardest hit in the injury department, it would be difficult to out-do the Sycamores’ secondary.
Every player that started in ISU’s season opener at Indiana not only missed at least one game last season, but the entire starting unit was out of action by the end of September.
Reed named Midseason National Player of the Year
Half of the college baseball season is done and one prominent college baseball publication thinks Terre Haute’s A.J. Reed is best player in the land.
Reed, a junior at Kentucky, was named the Midseason National Player of the Year by Perfect Game USA, a website devoted to college baseball.
Laramie to transfer from ISU women's basketball program
Indiana State forward Marina Laramie averaged 9.9 points and started all 32 games as a sophomore for the Sycamores.
But the 6-foot-2 women’s basketball player will continue her career elsewhere.
Metro sports: ISU blanks Austin Peay in 6-plus innings
Indiana State’s baseball team posted another mid-week victory Wednesday night as four pitchers combined to throw a three-hit shutout and lead a 3-0 victory over Austin Peay State at Bob Warn Field.
Chicago guard commits to ISU women's basketball
The Indiana State women’s basketball team picked up a verbal commitment from Chicago guard Kiera Brooks on Tuesday.
The 5-foot-7 junior for North Lawndale College Prep visited ISU’s campus for the first time, met the team and chose her college home. Brooks averaged 18.7 points, six rebounds, four assists and two steals for coach Corey Morgan’s 15-11 squad.
METRO ROUNDUP: ISU softball tops IU 7-5
The Indiana State softball team remained a perfect 13-0 when scoring in the first inning as it defeated Indiana (9-24-1) 7-5 Tuesday for its second consecutive victory over a Big Ten opponent.
Dedicated to helping others
It’s not like Marissa Stout is bored out of her mind and lacking for things to do.
Metro sports: ISU’s Stone, Riemenschneider honored by MVC
Indiana State junior Megan Stone and freshman Brooke Riemenschneider each earned Missouri Valley Conference Athlete of the Week honors, according to an announcement from the league office Monday.
ISU baseball shows mental toughness in win over Illinois State
When the pressure’s on, there’s nothing a coach likes more than to see his team double down on their approach and grit out a positive result.
Going the distance: Redbirds ace Savas allows just five hits while shutting down Sycamores
Indiana State’s pitchers weren’t their best in Friday’s series opener against Illinois State, but it seemed the Sycamores might get away with it. Through seven innings, ISU had issued six walks, gave up six hits and hit a batter, but still trailed by just a run. But ISU’s luck with its generosity would give out in the eighth, and even if it hadn’t, Illinois State standout starter Dan Savas had the Sycamores’ bats in a deep freeze anyway. The Redbirds defeated the Sycamores 5-2 at Bob Warn Field.
Woods softball team wins 4th straight
The Saint Mary-of-the-Woods softball team swept Grace College with a pair of wins in its home opener Wednesday.
Devoted brothers: Mahurins relish chance to team up and win NAIA title
It wasn’t a great year for NCAA basketball in the Hoosier state outside of Indiana State’s 23-victory season.
But a team in NAIA Division II with eight Indiana natives — and coached by former Valparaiso point guard Greg Tonagel, an Indiana All-Star for his hometown of LaPorte — brought home a national basketball championship.
Tonagel, the scrappy point guard who played alongside Bryce Drew for that magical Valpo team, created more March hoops memories with the help of Rockville brothers R.J. and Lane Mahurin.
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- Immense power: A leaner A.J. Reed making play as elite prospect