Penguins’ Kelly excited about Morgantown visit
By Charles Grove
While Saturday’s game in Morgantown isn’t quite exactly a homecoming, Jaylin Kelly — a native of Washington Pa. — will have plenty of family and friends making the just-under-an-hour drive to see the Youngstown State football team take on West Virginia.
“I’m really excited,” Kelly said. I’ve got a lot of family coming, friends, a lot of people from my high school and I think my coaches might be there. I’m excited to play in front of them again.”
They will be traveling to Milan Puskar Stadium to cheer on Kelly, who hopes to be a thorn in the side of the Mountaineer defense. Kelly racked up seven tackles in week one against Duquesne, more than double anyone else on the team.
That support will be welcome before Kelly suits up but he said once he gets out on the field, he’ll try to block everything out as the Penguins try to join the ranks of four FCS teams who won against FBS opponents in Week 1 (Albany, Richmond, Eastern Washington and Northern Iowa).
“Before the game it’s nice to hear people text me and say they’re coming to the game but once I’m on the field I try to block out the crowd and try to play.”
In order to try to get into that group of FCS teams who have pulled off the big upsets, Kelly has said that includes a lot of time in the film room.
“I’ve been watching a lot of film with the team and with my unit,” Kelly said. “They’re fast. The wide receivers are fast, the running backs are fast and that’s the type of guys they recruit. That’s their strength. They like to beat you with deep balls and stuff like that.”
The linebacking group has had to do a bit of reorganizing when Lee Wright’s suspension was upheld just before the Duquesne game. Wright was getting much of the first-team snaps but Kelly has stepped into that role very well according to sophomore linebacker Armand Dellovade.
“It’s been different but Jaylin has picked up right where we left off,” Dellovade said. “Jaylin is smart and physical so it’s been good.”
As far as Kelly is concerned, it was just his job to step into that role once he was called upon.
“It just means the guys who just came in need to stop up a little bit more,” Kelly said. “[Wright] was a big part of our team but they always preach next man up and they’ve got to step up into their role and do what he has to do.”
Kelly partially credits his success to Carl Pelini’s defensive system. Now that Pelini is defensive coordinator as well as linebackers coach, the group has a better idea what’s expected of them on the field.
“[Pelini] had to relay messages last year but now that he’s the linebackers coach and the defensive coordinator we get specific instructions from the head guy to what he wants us to do and how he wants it to be executed,” Kelly said. “So it’s a little bit easier from meetings with him to executing what he wants out on the field.”
As far as that potential upset is concerned, Kelly thinks the Penguins are capable of doing what they did against Pitt in 2012.
“I do think we can be one of those teams,” Kelly said. “I think we’re a very good team and I think our conference is very strong. With the way we play and the way our conference plays we can beat anyone who is up against us.”