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.
- Indiana State University
FROM THE PRESS BOX: Odum rises to WSU challenge
When you’re getting ready to play the No. 2 team in the country — the undefeated No. 2 team in the country and the best Missouri Valley Conference team in a generation — the unwritten rule says you’re not supposed to rile them. That you’re not supposed to poke the hornet’s nest.
Clock problems delay start of Indiana State semifinal game
Time stood still in Scottrade Center on Saturday.
Not by design.
Sycamores advance to Arch Madness title game
No one said advancing to the Missouri Valley Conference men’s basketball tournament championship game was going to be easy.
ISU women grab share of MVC regular-season title
The preseason Missouri Valley Conference favorite lived up to its expectations, as the Indiana State women’s basketball team grabbed a piece of the regular-season title with an 85-72 triumph over host Northern Iowa on Saturday afternoon inside McLeod Center.
ISU headed to MVC title game
Indiana State defeated Southern Illinois 62-59 on Saturday to advance to Arch Madness championship game.
Ramblin’ On: Sycamores use defensive stops to reach Missouri Valley semifinals
It sounds counter-intuitive, but to go forward in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament you must first get stops. In Friday’s MVC Tournament quarterfinal against Loyola, ISU followed that bit of zen to a tee. The Sycamores never let the Ramblers get comfortable offensively and put a hammer-lock on Loyola standout Milton Doyle. ISU rode its defense to an easy 75-62 victory at Scottrade Center.
ISU baseball looking to carry success home
Indiana State had pitching questions coming into the season, having lost its entire starting staff from a year ago.
So far anyway, those questions have been answered. The Sycamores are 9-1 going into their home opener today against Western Illinois.
Metro sports: Rose-Hulman picks up baseball win
A late run in the eighth-inning broke a 4-all tie and proved to be the game winner for Rockford College in a 5-4 decision over the Rose-Hulman baseball team Friday at the Chain of Lakes Complex.
Sycamores rejuvenated heading into MVC Tournament quarterfinals
Indiana State point guard Jake Odum is sick-and-tired of being sick and tired.
He’s tired of hearing about the team’s three-game losing streak. He’s tired of the Sycamores playing below par. He’s tired of the team not fulfilling its potential.
He plans to do something about it this weekend. Second-seeded ISU begins its Missouri Valley Conference Tournament trek at 7:05 p.m. tonight against either No. 10 Loyola.
ISU women seek top MVC seed
Defense and rebounding are the staples of Teri Moren’s fourth Indiana State team, a squad that hits the road trying to defend and rebound its way to a regular-season conference title. The Sycamores women’s basketball can clinch the No. 1 seed in the Missouri Valley Conference with wins tonight against Drake and Saturday against Northern Iowa.
ISU reserve Smith earns two MVC honors
Indiana State sophomore Khristian Smith has been named to the Missouri Valley Conference’s All-Bench and Most Improved Teams, according to an announcement by the league office Wednesday.
Two Sycamores with Scott during Saturday incident
A Vigo County’s Sheriff’s case report of Brenton Scott’s arrest last Saturday indicated that Scott, an Indiana State basketball player, tried to pass himself off as his twin brother and that two of his teammates were with him at the time of the incident.
Metro Sports: Sycamores to be represented at NCAA indoors
Three members of the Indiana State track and field team will compete in the 2014 NCAA indoor championships March 14-15 at Albuquerque, N.M. Senior Greggmar Swift will represent the men, while sophomore Katie Wise and senior Mary Theisen will represent the women.
Odum, Smith, Arop recognized by MVC
Indiana State point guard Jake Odum doesn’t play baseball, but he did go 4-for-4 in his Sycamore career.
His 4-for-4 performance came in regards to his All-Missouri Valley Conference selections. Odum has been named to the all-MVC team in each of his four seasons, and for the second time in a year, Odum was named to the MVC’s first team.
Teammate Khristian Smith also received a major individual honor. Smith, a sophomore, earned the MVC’s Sixth Man Award. Senior Manny Arop also was named as an All-MVC honorable-mention selection.
ISU’s Odum earns first-team All-MVC honors
ST. LOUIS —Indiana State guard Jake Odum earned a spot on the 2014 All-Missouri Valley Conference first team, which was announced today as the Sycamores prepare for this week’s MVC men’s basketball tournament.
Metro: No ISU baseball today; home opener now Friday
Indiana State’s baseball home opener that was to be played today has been pushed back, according to Sycamore head coach Mitch Hannahs.
ISU's Scott booked for OWI, possession
Indiana State men's basketball player Brenton Scott was booked into the Vigo County Jail on Saturday for operating while intoxicated, possession of marijuana/hash, possession of paraphenalia and false reporting/informing.
Senior Day Success
Indiana State shot just 35 percent from the field Sunday in Hulman Center compared with 46 percent for the visiting Bradley women, but that was almost a good thing.
ISU teams sweep titles in indoor track
Indiana State’s track teams swept the Missouri Valley Conference Indoor Championships on Sunday at Northern Iowa, the men leading all the way and the women surviving a three-way battle.
Odum can't get roll on game-winning attempt on Senior Day
The storybook was ready to be opened at Hulman Center on Saturday.
Down two with 4.5 seconds to go, Indiana State rebounded a free throw miss by Northern Iowa’s Seth Tuttle. ISU senior point guard Odum timed his dash perfectly up the floor. He released his shot from just behind the 3-point line at just the right second. The shot was true and online.
TODD GOLDEN: Lansing's belief in his team has not wavered
In the wake of Indiana State’s 71-69 loss to Northern Iowa on Saturday, and the three-game losing streak that comes with it, ISU coach Greg Lansing wanted to get one point across crystal clear in his postgame press conference.
Red-hot ISU baseball wins eighth straight game
Indiana State broke away from a tight ballgame with four runs in the fifth inning and went on to post their eighth-straight victory of the 2014 campaign with a 10-3 triumph over New Orleans Saturday.
David Stagg (3-0) was the winning pitcher for the Sycamores as he went seven innings. He allowed two runs, scattered nine hits and struck out eight.
ISU men’s track leading in MVC indoor championships
Indiana State’s men’s track and field team took the lead Saturday after the first day of the Missouri Valley Conference indoor championships Saturday at Northern Iowa, while the Sycamore women were second.
Seeking their second straight championship, the Sycamore men have 64 points to 37 for Illinois State. Indiana State’s women are just two points behind Southern Illinois, 50-48.
Rolling along: Third straight victory helps Sycamores tie for second in MVC
Aside from Teri Moren sticking with her pink Chuck Taylor shoes on the sideline for superstitious reasons, Indiana State’s three-game winning streak can be explained by strong play in nearly every aspect of the game.
Sycamores stay positive in face of adversity
After Indiana State’s 77-59 loss at Illinois State on Wednesday, ISU players had an idea of how the tone of Thursday and Friday’s practices would be prior to today’s regular-season finale against Northern Iowa.
Metro: ISU softball win streak reaches 6
Indiana State improved its college softball winning streak to six games Friday by beating Wright State 4-3 and IUPUI 3-2 on the opening day of the Holiday Inn Hilltopper Classic.
Odum's final chapter is here; how will he author the ending?
If you compare a college basketball career to a book, Indiana State point guard Jake Odum has been a page-turner from day one.
Odum has dazzled ISU fans from the time he became a starter during the first weekend of his first season in 2010. The Sycamores have not had a losing season during the Odum era, a run of success unprecedented in ISU’s Division I history.
VIDEO: Indiana State women looking to add to winning streak at home
Indiana State looks to put a three-game winning streak together tonight against Loyola, who topped the Sycamores behind 30 points by senior forward Troy Hambric for one of the Ramblers’ nine wins this season.
The Sycamores’ women’s basketball team stifled Missouri State last Friday and knocked off first-place Wichita State on Sunday for a pair of road wins last weekend. They'll look to build upon that momentum tonight at home.
Mayor Bennett takes students’ questions
Mayor Duke Bennett fielded some tough, thoughtful questions on topics that included potholes, neighborhood safety, abandoned homes and railroads Thursday.
Metro roundup: ISU track ready for MVC indoors
The Indiana State track and field teams will head to Cedar Falls, Iowa, this weekend for the Missouri Valley Conference indoor championships.
The men are defending champions and the women were runners-up a year ago.
- More Indiana State University Headlines
- FROM THE PRESS BOX: Odum rises to WSU challenge