Published November 10, 2012http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd">
1. I watched Saturday's game on TV, so you're getting my TV thoughts. (But, hey, they're free.) And the first thing that stuck out to me was how much better the Penguins looked in the second half. YSU's defense held WIU without a first down over the last 30 minutes and I really liked what I saw from Kurt Hess. Hess looked shaky in the first half but he stepped up and made some terrific throws in the fourth quarter. He looked more like the quarterback we saw against Northern Iowa.
2. This was a "take care of business" game. Western Illinois is bad -- easily the worst team in the Missouri Valley -- and YSU did what it needed to do. The Penguins' defense dominated, with the lone touchdown coming after a Hess interception was returned to the YSU 17. These are the games YSU should always win in this conference.
3. The Penguins rushed 60 (!) times, compared to just 22 throws. It was a good game plan for today but they're going to need Hess to do more than that against Indiana State next week. The Sycamores' defense is really good. If you only count conference games, they're second in the conference to North Dakota State in scoring defense, total defense and passing defense. Fortunately for YSU, they're a middle-of-the-pack team when it comes to run defense.
4. Indiana State's standout running back Shakir Bell has been banged up all season, but the Sycamores had an open date this week, so I'd expect him to be healthier on Saturday. And as YSU fans already know, he's a handful. Bell ran for 256 yards and four TDs in last year's 37-35 win over the Penguins.
5. I think, psychologically, this was an important win for YSU. It gets the Penguins to six wins -- same as last year -- and gives them something to play for in the finale. It also means that the players and coaches will get questions about Indiana State this week and not about other things this week.