Question on campus: Who is QB next week?
YOUNGSTOWN — The only thing that’s certain at quarterback for Youngstown State is that Bo Pelini won’t be lining up under center — and even that’s not a sure thing.
“Just so you know, I can still do it,” he joked after YSU beat Northern Iowa, 14-10, on Saturday.
The Penguins (5-1, 3-0 Missouri Valley Football Conference) won despite losing its top two quarterbacks to injury. Ricky Davis injured his knee early in the second quarter and didn’t return. Back-up Trent Hosick hurt his shoulder in the second quarter. Pelini said Hosick broke his collarbone and likely needs surgery. He did not think Davis’ injury was long term.
That left Nathan Mays, a redshirt freshman, to guide YSU’s offense against the Panthers, one of the top-ranked defenses in the conference. Normal third-string quarterback Hunter Wells, who has 18 career starts and nearly led YSU to the playoffs the last two seasons, also is out with a shoulder injury. He was on YSU’s sideline but in street clothes. Pelini isn’t sure when Wells will be healthy.
“Me,” replied Pelini, a former quarterback at Cardinal Mooney, when asked who was next up Mays was injured.
Offensive coordinator Shane Montgomery came down to the sideline for the second half. He normally calls the game from the press box. Part of the reason was because YSU didn’t have anyone signal plays in, but it also was because he wanted to communicate directly with Mays, who was happy Montgomery made the move.
“Coach Montgomery really wanted to be in my ear every time I came to the sideline to have that personal connection, and I was glad he did. It really made me feel at home and definitely not near as nervous as I would’ve been.
Mays finished 3-of-6 for 25 yards, one interception and zero touchdowns. He ran for 22 yards on six carries and made smart decisions at key moments.
“The guy was our scout team quarterback this week, and he came in there and played like a man,” senior defensive end Derek Rivers said. “Everyone knew that he was the real deal. He’s great kid, and he’s got a great head on his shoulders. As long as he can keep building and progressing, he’ll be a great player for us in the future. His heart is huge.”
WELCOME BACK: The Penguins held a short ceremony at halftime to honor the 25th anniversary of the 1991 National Championship football team. The title was the first in the Penguins’ history and started a legendary run of four titles and six championship game appearances during the 1990s.
The estimated 50 players who returned for the reunion had a cookout at YSU president Jim Tressel’s house on Friday and then ate breakfast with the Penguins on Saturday. Tressel, of course, was the coach who led YSU during its historic run.
“It definitely was special to win it in front of those guys like that because they built this,” said Rivers, who had one of six sacks for YSU. “It’s because of them we have this. They built the foundation for us.”