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Pelini: YSU players must do little things better

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

By Brian Dzenis

bdzenis@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

Bo Pelini wants his Youngstown State football team to help him so that he can help the team.

At his weekly press conference on Tuesday, Pelini described spending 15 to 20 minutes with one player — one he called a great player — trying figure out how said player can get through practices well only to make mistakes in the games.

“You find yourself shaking your head sometimes trying to figure out how it happens when they’re doing it OK during the week and when you get to the game for some reason, there’s a disconnect when the lights go on,” Pelini said. “We try to put them in stressful situations in practice. Obviously, it’s not going to be as stressful as a game. It’s an ongoing thing.

“I’ve been coaching a long time and it’s ongoing. You have to keep coaching it so their level of understanding is better.”

There’s an expression in football that the little things yield the big results and for now, YSU (0-2) is still seeking its first win.

In last week’s 52-17 loss to No. 14 West Virginia, Pelini conceded that the Mountaineers were the better team and the team’s overall performance was better than it was in the shocking 23-21 loss to Butler in the opener, but he said there were times where “the finer coaching points” were missed.

The attention to detail has to be better.

“When you make certain mistakes, you have to get them corrected them during the week and you have to understand what those fine points are and that you are following them to a T,” Pelini said. “When you don’t, it hurts you.”

For the defense, Pelini said if the Penguins had taken better care things, the first half against the Mountaineers could have been different.

“We had mistakes that can’t happen. A miscommunication, a misidentified formation — you need all 11 guys on the same page,” Pelini said. “You don’t need to do anything out of the ordinary, you just need to do what you’re coached to do. I don’t know whether it’s a lack of focus, getting caught up in the moment — that’s what we have to identify and you’re always at that point early in the season, but it’s happening too much.”

Pelini pointed out mistakes by the offensive line in picking up the right assignments. It was an assessment shared by offensive lineman Gavin Wiggins.

“It’s the details that we’re missing. It’s things like not climbing back to the right [linebacker] or not getting to the linebacker at all,” Wiggins said. “It’s things like that that we’re missing.”

Wiggins said he saw improvement in how the team prepared for West Virginia from Butler, but there’s still room to be better.

“It was kind of embarrassing going through that. We played a bad game and it happens. I approach every week the same if it’s Butler or the national championship,” Wiggins said. “I prepare the same way every week. The preparation on the field between the other players needs to have a higher standard.”

The Penguins have Valparaiso on Saturday, a side with no athletic scholarships. It’s another chance to show YSU is applying what it does in practice.

“It’s a process. I’ve been through this and you stay with the process. Every single day you have to get better and grow as a football team get more efficient and accountable,” Pelini said. “Our execution has to get better and it’s an ongoing process.”