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
Sycamores dig down to beat Canisius, avoid sweep
Indiana State took control late in the game and avoided being swept in a weekend college baseball series for the first time this season as it defeated Canisius 8-4 Sunday.
ISU baseball drops second straight
Indiana State’s baseball team rallied late in the game but could not get in front as the Canisius Golden Griffins held off the Sycamores 5-4 Saturday.
ISU (24-12) will look to avoid being swept for the first time this season at noon EDT today when it plays the series finale against Canisius (22-13).
Driving to victory
College golf, Indiana State coach Greg Towne indicated Monday afternoon, is all about the process.
ISU losing Ragland to Bowling Green St.
David Ragland was the first person Indiana State men’s basketball coach Greg Lansing hired to his staff when he became the Sycamores’ head coach in 2010.
FROM THE PRESSBOX: In Lance the Pacers trust? Why not?
The trials and tribulations of the Indiana Pacers are well documented.
Sycamores just one shot behind in tourney on familiar turf
Lack of experience in playing a collegiate women’s golf tournament in their own backyard may not be a hindrance for Indiana State, which finds itself one shot out of the lead — and with room to do better — after Sunday’s first round of the Indiana State Spring Invitational at the Country Club of Terre Haute.
ISU pushes run across in 9th to beat SIU — again
Indiana State scored in the ninth inning for a second game in a row Sunday, breaking a tie to defeat host Southern Illinois and win a closely contested Missouri Valley Conference baseball series.
Indiana State falls to No. 23-ranked IU 8-4 in baseball
Indiana State’s baseball team tried to walk a double tightrope this week.
The degree of difficulty was cranked up significantly as the Sycamores played back-to-back games at Vanderbilt and Indiana, both top 25 teams.
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 is deadly with two outs
One of the many charms of baseball is that there are a thousand different debates about a thousand different topics one can embroil themselves in. One of the most passionate is whether clutch hitting exists.
ISU dusts off its broom
Wichita State’s baseball program has been the bellwether of the Missouri Valley Conference for more than a quarter-century. And 2014 is no different. When a team has success against the Shockers, picked to win the league in the preseason coaches’ poll, it still has cachet.
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.
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 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.
Bad day for Sycamores
Indiana State’s baseball team has had more good days than bad so far this season.
Sunday, however, was bad in every way.
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.
‘A full night’: Leadoff hitter Curry leads 16-hit attack as Sycamores pound Hoosiers
Lead-off man Landon Curry had four of Indiana State’s 16 hits Wednesday afternoon, and cleanup hitter Mike Fitzgerald reached for the 17th straight game to lead the Sycamores to a 12-8 victory.
ISU committed to making Tonyan a key contributor
Indiana State’s 1-11 2013 football season was nightmarish in many ways, but one player who had to endure it with eyes more wide open than most was Robert Tonyan Jr.
Thrust into a much larger role than anticipated at quarterback when Mike Perish was injured in early October, and with injuries occurring all around him as well, the then-redshirt freshman struggled behind center.
Fresh start: ISU football team springs into action for coach Sanford’s second season
Many things change from year one to year two in someone’s coaching regime, but when it comes to football, few things change more dramatically in that span than spring football practice.
Aces ride leadoff success to series win over ISU
The leadoff bullets were flying around at Evansville’s Charles Braun Stadium as Indiana State and Evansville locked up in a Missouri Valley Conference baseball series decider on Sunday.
ISU stretching to improve softball program
Some are from as far away as California, or Arizona or Iowa. Some played their high school games a little closer to Terre Haute, such as at North Central or Clay City.
ISU loses 63-61 to Marquette in WNIT
After a Jasmine Grier 3-pointer with four seconds on the clock cut Marquette’s lead to two points, a crazy March ending appeared possible as Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir came up with a steal with just more than a second to go Thursday in Hulman Center
Abdul-Qaadir had momentum going toward the bucket after her steal but couldn’t get the layup off in time as the Sycamores fell in the first round of the Women’s NIT to the Big East squad, 63-61.
Second shot: ISU women seeking better shooting, defense against Marquette in WNIT opener
Defensive continuity, defensive rebounding and better outside shooting are among the keys for Indiana State in a first-round WNIT basketball game against Marquette tonight in Hulman Center.
Sycamores no match for Hogs
In the wake of Indiana State’s 91-71 Tuesday loss to Arkansas in the National Invitation Tournament, it was obvious to everyone why ISU coach Greg Lansing feared the matchup against the Razorbacks. They just had too much for the Sycamores to handle.
Metro sports: Alvarez helps ISU softball gain home sweep
Junior Yvette Alvarez pitched a complete-game win in the opener and hit her first career home run in the second game to lead the Indiana State softball team to a doubleheader sweep in its home opener Wednesday at Price Field.
Sycamores eliminated from NIT by Razorbacks
Arkansas ended ISU’s men’s basketball season with a 91-71 victory in the National Invitation Tournament.
ISU women's basketball team upbeat getting ready for Marquette
The disposition of the Indiana State women’s basketball team was upbeat Tuesday as the Sycamores prepare for a WNIT showdown with Marquette on Thursday in Hulman Center.
Two days off after returning from St. Charles, Mo., where top-seeded ISU was upset by fifth-seeded Drake, ISU coach Teri Moren prepared her team to get a postseason victory.
- More Indiana State University Headlines
- Sycamores dig down to beat Canisius, avoid sweep