After Dukes, rowdy awaits Penguins
WVU fans known to create raucous atmosphere
By charles grove
Fans got their first look at the Youngstown State University football team this past Thursday and now they’ve also gotten a look at next week’s opponent, West Virginia.
While it wasn’t the prettiest of games, the Mountaineers battled through some injuries, notably a rib injury to starting quarterback Skyler Howard, and came out with Saturday’s 26-11 win at home over Missouri.
In Thursday’s 45-10 triumph, YSU thoroughly dominated a Duquesne team that, at least for one week, didn’t appear to be the same playoff contender they were a year ago when they won the Northeast Conference and qualified for the FCS playoffs. A similar relatively mistake-free performance will be what’s required if the Penguins are to come away with a win in Morgantown.
So what did the Penguins do well?
The team averaged 7.4 yards per rush against Duquesne and had four players gain more than 74 yards. If the Penguins can consistently find holes the line was able to create against the Dukes, that’s going to lead to much more manageable second and third downs in what should be a very rowdy environment. The Penguins were 7 of 11 on third down conversions against Duquesne.
But obviously the biggest offensive key for YSU will be the game-management of quarterback Ricky Davis. The dual-threat back did about as well as you can do against the Dukes. Davis completed 12 of 16 passes for 187 yards and threw three touchdowns and no interceptions. The only obvious mistake on the night was a mishandled snap that was quickly fell on.
West Virginia’s defense will be a tougher puzzle to crack in all likelihood, but based on the lack of mistakes and strong play by Davis, there’s room to be optimistic.
Defensively, the Penguins were downright stingy. While the Duquesne offense looked like a shell of themselves a year ago, the Penguins looked solid from the line all the way to the secondary.
Dukes quarterback Dillon Buechel was limited to 15 completions on 29 passes and with the exception of one drive before halftime, was largely ineffective as his main concern was escaping the embrace of defensive ends Avery Moss and Derek Rivers. They chased Buechel all around and outside the pocket most of the night. While the defense only tallied two sacks, it was a large reason for YSU’s dominance.
What needs corrected? Penalties.
The Penguins ended up with 10 penalties for 100 yards against Duquesne. If that problem persists, those manageable second and third downs the offensive line and running backs are capable of creating will turn into third and longs forcing Davis to throw more or try to create plays on his own.
Eliminating mistakes, or getting as close to eliminating mistakes as possible will be key. The turnover bug bit Darien Townsend on a punt return.
While the YSU defense forced a fumble the very next play to make up for it, that big of a swing in momentum in a Big 12 environment will be difficult to overcome, let alone the field position.
While FCS teams have typically been good for an upset or two a year for the past couple of seasons, this year the FCS teams are standing toe-to-toe with many of the “big boys” in road environments.
Richmond went to the University of Virginia and defeated the Cavaliers fairly comfortably 37-20. Albany also upset Buffalo 22-16e.
Several other FBS teams were given a scare from FCS programs. No. 12 Michigan State escaped Furman 28-13 while Nevada and UConn narrowly defeated Cal Poly and Maine by three points apiece.
While the FCS upsets are rare, if mistakes are limited, there’s no reason YSU can’t add themselves to that list.