Penguins anxious for WVU kickoff
QB Davis counting down the days to Morgantown
By Charles Grove
For some, Youngstown State’s next game against West Virginia isn’t any different than any other game.
For others, it’s getting closer and closer to Christmas morning.
“[The West Virginia game] is the one I’ve been looking forward to all year,” YSU quarterback Ricky Davis said Tuesday. “I’ve actually had it as a screensaver on my phone with the days counting down to this game.”
From head coach Bo Pelini’s perspective, this week is like any other.
“We need to get better and we need to play better,” Pelini said. “It doesn’t matter who you’re playing.
“You just have to execute your game plan and do what you’re supposed to do and I think we’re fully capable of doing it but we need a good week of preparation.”
West Virginia is coming off a 26-11 home win over Missouri in their opening game while the Penguins thrashed Duquesne 45-10 to start their season.
The Mountaineers won’t be at 100 percent on Saturday. The team has lost two starters to ACL injuries — left tackle Yodny Cajuste and free safety Dravon Askew-Henry.
And while quarterback Skyler Howard is slated to start, he played through a rib injury he sustained against Missouri.
The betting lines aren’t out yet but the Penguins should be an underdog as they head into a fairly hostile FBS environment.
“We’re picked to lose so we have nothing to lose,” Davis said. “This is our Super Bowl game, like we were Duquesne’s Super Bowl game.
“We’re going to come ready.”
But that crowd noise and intimidating factor isn’t something Pelini is addressing with his team. Most of the team experienced an FBS setting last year against Pitt at Heinz Field.
“They understand where we’re going and the type of environment we’re going to be in,” Pelini said. “We’ll have some things in place to deal with the crowd noise.”
The Penguins are anxious to prove their worth against FBS competition as much of the Missouri Valley Football Conference did in week one. Northern Iowa defeated Iowa State 25-20 and several others nearly pulled off upsets as well — Southern Illinois lost a halftime lead against Florida Atlantic and lost 38-30 while South Dakota State missed out on beating No. 13 TCU, losing 59-41.
“Our conference is just as tough as any of these non-conference games we play,” linebacker Armand Dellovade said. “Teams like North Dakota State, South Dakota State, Illinois State, I think they’re just as tough as West Virginia or Pitt.”
With the ease YSU moved the ball with against Duquesne. The Penguins didn’t show much of their playbook, but they will against Pitt.
“Against Duquesne, we showed about one fifth of what we can do,” Davis said. “We didn’t show hardly anything which I thought was huge for this season. For West Virginia, we’re going to show what we got and we’re going to show just about everything.”
YSU isn’t without a few injuries as well. Running back Jody Webb, who was taken out after a hard hit against Duquesne is expected to play against the Mountaineers while right guard Brock Eisenhuth is battling a toe injury. Pelini said Eisenhuth’s status will be determined as the week goes on.