YSU football Upend FBS foe is Davis’ goal
Penguins underdog vs. West Virginia
To understand Youngstown State quarterback Ricky Davis’ motivation to play West Virginia, take a peek at his cell phone.
His screensaver counts down the days until the Penguins (1-0) meet the Mountaineers (1-0).
Time’s up. Saturday’s game will be Youngstown State’s annual chance — and Davis’ first as a starter — to upend a Bowl Subdivision opponent.
“We’re picked to lose. So we have nothing to lose,” Davis said. “This is our Super Bowl game. This is the one that we’ve had circled on the schedule for a while. And we’re going to come ready.”
The Penguins beat Pittsburgh in the 2012 opener, its first win over a major conference school, and almost pulled off a repeat a year ago against the Panthers in coach Bo Pelini’s debut.
“If that doesn’t grab your attention right there, then I don’t know what will,” West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said.
In his first career start last week, Davis was solid with three touchdown passes against Duquesne. But the junior with the long-flowing locks knows it’s a step up to play the Mountaineers.
“I’m hoping we’ve got what it takes to match up with those guys,” Davis said. “I’ve very confident that we do.”
Pelini isn’t so sure.
“You just don’t know what’s going to happen, how the game’s going to go,” he said. “You have to be prepared to go out and win it, no matter what side of it you’re on. I don’t change my approach, whether we’re playing West Virginia, the Steelers or a high school team. It’s going to be the same.”
The Mountaineers have never lost to a Championship Subdivision opponent. Holgorsen has said he doesn’t like playing FCS schools — the Youngstown State matchup was set before he became coach in 2011.
Some things to know as the Penguins and Mountaineers prepare for their first meeting since 1938.
West Virginia beat Missouri 26-11 last week but had to settle for field goals four times inside the Tigers’ 20-yard-line. “The good news from the head coach perspective is we did do a hell of a lot better than they did, which is the main reason why we won,” Holgorsen said.
West Virginia quarterback Skyler Howard said he’s sore but will be ready to start on Saturday after straining his ribs during a run last week. Howard said it was a noncontact injury. He’ll need to preserve his health because backups William Crest and Chris Chugunov were unimpressive during brief appearances against Missouri. Crest lost a fumble and Chugunov threw an interception.
West Virginia starting left tackle Yodny Cajuste was lost for the season with a torn ACL in his right knee sustained last week. Redshirt freshman Colton McKivitz will start in Cajuste’s place. Cajuste adds to a growing list of players already gone with knee injuries before the season started, including top returning tackler Dravon Askew-Henry at safety, backup nose tackle Jaleel Fields and top recruit Brendan Ferns at linebacker.
BEWARE OF THE CRAWSHELL
West Virginia’s tandem of Rushel Shell and Justin Crawford was impressive against Missouri but will face a Youngstown State defense that allowed only 34 yards. Shell had 90 yards before missing most of the second half with leg cramps. Crawford, a junior college transfer, had 101 yards. Both ran for a score.
Youngstown State also can churn out the yards on the ground, compiled 394 against Duquesne. Starting running back Jody Webb ran for 96, Martin Ruiz had 89 and third-stringer Tevin McCaster had 107 in the fourth quarter. Davis chipped in with 74 yards.
“I hate when people call me a running quarterback,” he said. “I’m a pocket-passing quarterback that has the ability to run.”