YSU’s new defensive ends turning heads
By Charles Grove
The first week of spring ball is in the books for the Youngstown State football team and head coach Bo Pelini said he’s already seeing progress from his two new starting defensive ends, Johnson Louigene and Fazson Chapman.
The pair has big shoes to fill after last year’s seniors Derek Rivers and Avery Moss both are now trying out for the NFL.
“They’re both a little raw but I think they both have a chance to be really good players,” Pelini said. “They’re going to be getting a lot of reps and I’m already seeing improvement.”
Louigene saw more of the field last year, especially when Moss was out with a nagging ankle injury. He played in 12 games and started a home playoff game against Samford.
“Derek was my host last year and I learned some things from him,” Louigene said. “I learned I have to leave no doubt on the field that I gave it my all. I embraced that from him.”
Pelini said the two are similar in talent level but have different tendencies and may be stronger at different areas of the game.
“Johnson is probably more adept to playing the run,” Pelini said. “His strength is probably playing the run. He’s probably a little bit more ahead all around than Fazson who’s a really, really talented pass rusher.
“There’s just different things each guy has to work on to get better at.”
The new defensive end duo and Pelini said the stability the program has at quarterback this spring is helping on the defensive side of the ball as well. Instead of worrying about the tendencies of four quarterbacks all trying to compete for a job, players like Chapman and Louigene can focus on themselves.
“You kind of know what to expect with who’s back there,” Louigene said. “You know who’s going to throw and who’s going to run and who can do both. I can adjust to how they’re going to come at me.”
Elsewhere on defense, it appears the linebackers will be the backbone of what hopes to continue to be a strong balance to the offense.
“Since we lost [Moss and Rivers] the linebackers will be real leaders this year with Armand [Dellovade] and me,” senior linebacker Lee Wright said.
Dellovade is sitting out currently with an injury but Wright looks to be in midseason form already. Pelini said getting time at the Mike linebacker position in the spring will help Wright become an even stronger linebacker than he’s shown in year’s past.
“Lee playing Mike will help him come fall,” Pelini said. “It’s giving him a chance to develop his knowledge of the game and shake off some of the rust he may have from last year.”
Wright had quite the day on defense on Friday. He picked off a throw from Hunter Wells and nearly got another against Nathan Mays in seven-on-seven.
“Hunter was just talking in the locker room before practice saying I can’t catch,” Wright said. “I told him I picked him off before and he threw one right to me today.
“I almost got Mays, too. He congratulated me on that one.”
The team now has a week off for spring break and will return to the practice field on March 13.