YSU hosts SDSU in MVFC opener

Penguins’ defense

figures to be tested

By Brian Dzenis



South Dakota State figures to throw a lot at Youngstown State tonight. The Penguins will have to keep their game on point in a matchup of the No. 5 team in the Football Championship Subdivision hosting the No. 4 team in the nation.

“Do your job. Don’t try to do somebody else’s job because there’s certain things — like my formation defense or whatever it may be — you have to handle your responsibility,” Penguins coach Bo Pelini said. “You have to trust that the guys around you are going to do the same.”

That mantra comes in handy when it comes to defending against the Jackrabbits.

SDSU quarterback Taryn Christion is the returning Missouri Valley Football Conference Offensive Player of the Year after setting a new school record for passing yards with 3,714 and tied another in passing touchdowns with 30 in 2016.

Christion has 692 passing yards, seven scores and a pick so far in 2017. He’s also the team’s leading rusher with 163 yards and tied for a team-high three rushing touchdowns.

“I think they’re a very balanced offense. I think it’s a very well thought out offense and their quarterback is going to be a challenge and he has a lot of playmakers,” Pelini said.

“He hurts you with his arms and he hurts you with his legs and they’ll have some designed quarterback runs and they do a lot of run-pass options. It’s a multi-faceted offense where you better be on point.”

The two major playmakers in the Jackrabbits’ offense are 6-foot-4 wide receiver Jake Wieneke and 6-5 tight end Dallas Goedert.

By the time the senior wideout graduates, he’ll be the Jackrabbits’ all-time leading receiver by close to 1,000 yards. He’s caught five touchdown passes in three games to go with 173 receiving yards.

Goedert is the team’s leading receiver with 210 receiving yards and a touchdown. The pair, along with Christion, were finalists for the Walter Payton Award last year.

“You’re going to have to have a lot of safety help. I’ve played against (Wieneke) for three years and he’s just a tough receiver and you have to know where he is a all times,” YSU linebacker Lee Wright said. “Their tight end is a second-to-third round pick [in the NFL draft], I think.”

SDSU’s run to 3-0 on the year includes two uneventful routs of Duquesne and Drake sandwiching a road win of borderline top-25 Montana State in Week 2. That 31-27 win featured a fake field goal with kicker Chase Vinatieri — the nephew of NFL kicker Adam Vinatieri — running 31 yards for the winning touchdown.

The Jackrabbits are giving up 16.3 points a game on defense. SDSU has given up the third-most passing touchdowns in the conference with seven and allows 238.8 passing yards a game.

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