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YSU quarterback situation uncertain

Crenshaw is ‘day to day’; starter TBA

Correspondent photo / Robert Hayes Youngstown State quarterback Joe Craycraft drops back to pass at Michigan State earlier this season. Craycraft may start this weekend against South Dakota State, as Demeatric Crenshaw is “day to day” with a lower leg injury.

YOUNGSTOWN — Youngstown State starting quarterback Demeatric Crenshaw is “day to day” after suffering a lower leg injury in last Saturday’s 28-17 loss at Indiana State, and a starter for this Saturday’s game against No. 10 South Dakota State is TBA.

Crenshaw came out during the first quarter of YSU’s game in Terre Haute. At the time, the score was tied at 7. Joe Craycraft, a senior, replaced Crenshaw and went 13-for-31 for 172 yards and a touchdown, but was picked off four times.

Of Crenshaw’s injury, head coach Doug Phillips said, “We’re fortunate that it’s nothing major, but again, we have to make sure that he has strength on it. It’s going to be a day by day thing.”

Phillips added that the injury has improved each day since Saturday.

After being thrust into action, Craycraft started out well, rallying YSU from a 14-7 deficit to take a 17-14 lead early in the third quarter. He ended the first half with a 14-yard touchdown pass to Bryce Oliver with 2 seconds remaining in the second quarter, which tied the game at 14. It capped a 12-play, 92-yard drive.

Then, out of the gates in the third quarter, YSU (2-4, 1-3 Missouri Valley) marched the ball to the Indiana State 3-yard-line before settling for a field goal to go up 17-14.

From there, however, the Penguin offense struggled. YSU’s next drive ended on downs, and then the final four drives ended with interceptions as ISU surged back for the win.

No matter who starts Saturday, Phillips says he has “full faith.”

“I really love our quarterback room. They come to work every day; they come to compete every day,” he said.

Left guard Aidan Parker said limiting turnovers has been a point of emphasis this week, particularly because YSU and ISU were virtually even statistically. The Sycamores gained 402 yards of offense to the Penguins’ 401, and both the rushing and passing totals fell within 5 yards of each other.

“It’s hard to win games when you turn the ball over that much, so that was the big thing,” Parker said. “It’s just the little things we have to get better at and improve on.”

Parker mentioned that there were some “uncharacteristic” issues for the line, such as missing a blitz or miscommunication along the line. Cleaning those up, he says, would help close the margin. As such, the Penguins haven’t lost faith.

“I think we’re confident as a team. I think we’re a few plays away from being in that game,” Parker said. “So it’s just get back, have a good practice, which I thought we had a good (practice) Tuesday and get ready to go for Saturday.”

Schematically, Parker said there isn’t much difference between Craycraft and Crenshaw, and that the line still has to do its job either way.

However, losing Crenshaw would be a significant loss in the Penguins’ run game. Crenshaw’s 83.5 rushing yards per game rank 31st in the FCS, and YSU has called plenty of designed runs for him this season.

Parker added that the line is comfortable with both quarterbacks, given they were locked in a battle for the starting role during August camp. Now, Parker added, it will help Craycraft to get comfortable again by taking reps with the first team this week.

“I think it makes Joe more comfortable with us,” he said. “I think we’re able to do our job with anyone back there, but I think for Joe, there’s a difference when you’re playing with the twos and the ones.

“Maybe there’s a little more communication with us than them, so I think him being able to be more comfortable with us, knowing how we play, and being able to read us and how we block might help him and help him be more comfortable, and us be more comfortable with him as well.”

Kickoff is slated for 2 p.m. Saturday at Stambaugh Stadium.

jwhetzel@tribtoday.com

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