Penguins have plenty to fix with NDSU up next
Offensive line, DBs
in spotlight after
last week’s defeat
By Brian Dzenis
Youngstown State hit its first rough spot in the Missouri Valley Football conference last Saturday.
Not fixing the minor mistakes or any lapses in focus can prove fatal in a conference that boasts six teams in the Top 25, a lesson South Dakota taught YSU with a 31-28 victory.
“Sometimes it takes a reality check for the guys to understand that,” Penguins coach Bo Pelini said. “I look back to Saturday and I go back to one thing and I say our preparation was not good enough. To South Dakota’s credit, they were obviously more prepared than we are.”
The two units singled out from that loss were the secondary and the offensive line — arguably the worst performers in the Dakota Dome.
South Dakota’s Chris Streveler passed for 360 yards and three touchdowns against the Penguins. That’s twice the amount of the most yardage the Penguins have given up in any game prior to last week. It is also the only time YSU (3-2) has given up multiple passing touchdowns in a game this season.
“A lot of it was on us. We didn’t play up to our standard. Our technique wasn’t good. Our communication wasn’t good,” safety Kyle Hegedus said. “They didn’t do anything. This was on us. Their quarterback put the ball right where it needed to be and his receivers made plays. He threw those one-on-one balls and we didn’t win them and they scored touchdowns on us.”
Prior to last week, YSU’s offensive line had given up four sacks — one for each of its last four games — all season. The o-line conceded six sacks last week. Like his defensive counterpart Hegedus, senior left tackle Justin Spencer accepted responsibility for the ugly numbers.
“It’s on our o-line — all of us — we have to play better,” Spencer said. “The o-line is kind of unique because it’s not one guy making a play, all five guys have to play better or something bad is going to happen, like a sack, a minus run or whatever.
“We can’t make mistakes, we can’t hurt ourselves. We can’t doing anything that gives them any kind of advantage.”
The team has a week to correct itself before hosting No. 2 North Dakota State (5-0).
“Saturday was nothing we wanted at all,” Hegedus said. “We came in on Sunday, watched the film and got it out of our heads. Today it’s all business and we’re all looking forward.”
A DROP IN THE RANKINGS
As expected with a loss, YSU’s spot in the Tops 25 took a tumble. The Penguins drop to No. 8 from No. 3. Across the MVFC, South Dakota moves up to No. 4, North Dakota State stands pat at No. 2. South Dakota State sits at No. 7 and Western Illinois and Illinois State are at No. 14 and No. 15, respectively.
MIGHT BE OK?
Pelini’s outlook for quarterback Hunter Wells is better than it was last week, but the head coach says he’s “50-50” to return from a shoulder injury on Saturday. Also day-to-day is defensive end Justus Reed, who suffered an unspecified injury against the Coyotes.