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Postgame thoughts after YSU's brutal loss to Illinois State

By Joe Scalzo (Contact)

Published October 13, 2012

Untitled document

1. While Saturday's loss isn't quite the worst of the Eric Wolford era — last year's collapse against Missouri State in the regular season finale still wins that contest — it might have been the most confounding.
The offense didn't commit any turnovers. YSU got flagged just four times. The weather wasn't great but it wasn't anything unusual for October in the Midwest.
There was no obvious reason why an offense that scored on its first four possessions got shut out over the final 39 minutes. Illinois State just played better.

2. YSU's defense gave up 35 points but I think the offense deserves a larger share of the blame for this one. I've written this before but I'll say it again: outside of Andre Stubbs (who has been mostly held in check since his big game against Pitt), the Penguins don't have anyone explosive on offense.
Jamaine Cook is a terrific running back, but he's not a home-run hitter. (That's about the only criticism you'll ever hear me say about Cook, who was the team's best player on Saturday.) YSU's receivers are just average. And tight end Will Shaw has been pretty quiet recently.
There's no one who can take a 5-yard slant and turn it into a 55-yard touchdown. Consequently, the Penguins score off a lot of 10-play drives.

3. Speaking of not being scary, who is YSU's best defensive player?
I posed this question to someone in the program before last week's game and after a slight pause, he kind of shrugged and said, "[Defensive tackle] Aronde Stanton is playing pretty well."
YSU had no pass rush against North Dakota State and, while it was a little better against Illinois State, the Penguins didn't have a sack. Redbirds defensive end Colton Underwood had as many tackles for loss (three) as YSU's entire defense.

4. At a game last year, Ed Puskas (now the Vindicator's sports editor) watched YSU's defense and said, "They need a Harry Deligianis."
Now, this is a little like saying Tiger Woods just needs to start making his 50-foot putts, but Puskas had a point. There's no NFL-type player on YSU's defense. Deligianis had 17 sacks for the 1997 national championship team and was picked in the fourth round of the 1998 draft.
The Penguins had 23 sacks — total — last year. They had just 12 (!!!!) in 2010. They have seven so far this year.
Those numbers aren't good enough.

5. YSU's defense also doesn't create turnovers. The Penguins recovered a fumble on Saturday but only because an Illinois State receiver dropped a pass that was ruled a lateral. A week after Redbirds quarterback Matt Brown threw four interceptions, the Penguins didn't come close to picking one off.
YSU's defense has one interception this season. It's recovered five fumbles.
Again, those numbers aren't good enough.

6. While the season isn't lost, it's clear this team isn't as good as everyone thought. Southern Illinois — YSU's next opponent — beat Northern Iowa on Saturday. North Dakota State, which waxed YSU last weekend, lost to Indiana State.
The Penguins need to win three more games to make the playoffs. Two weeks ago, that seemed like a lock. Now they need to go 3-2 the rest of the way against Southern Illinois, South Dakota State, South Dakota, Western Illinois and Indiana State.
Stay tuned.


1Spiderlegs(161 comments)posted 3 years, 8 months ago

(1) Defense hasn't improved and making same mistakes as beginning of season. Weak LB means it is easy to get short passes and slants. DBs don't try to stop pass--they allow catch and then try to tackle receiver. Insufficient pass rush. Many missed tackles and assignments. Third time this year secondary has been suckered by a trick play. Lack of improvement over this many games indicates weak coaching. College-level coaches are also teachers and players should develop over season--Joe Tresey is starting to look overrated as defensive coordinator.

(2) Offense never adjusts once a team figures out how to stop Cook. Serious mental lapses. Coaches and players share responsibility here.

(3) Unnecessary unsportsmanlike conduct penalties--these should never happen. This team runs on emotion, not discipline, and this is also a coaching problem. Emotion is awesome when playing well, but can't get you through the tough times.

(4) Not sure this team can sustain two more losses and make playoffs, especially given loss of ND St today. Even one more could bump YSU from playoffs. This is going to come down to tiebreakers, and losses to ND St. and Ill. St will hurt in head-to-head comparisons and could land YSU as #3 team from MVFC. Conference might get 3 teams but I doubt 4--SoCon is also laden with talent.

(5) This team can still get in gear but coaches must lead. Hess is a good QB and running back corp is deep. Cook's ability to find a hole and extend plays may even make him underrated. Not enough anymore for Wolford to say that there are just a few adjustments to make.

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2AtownAugie(884 comments)posted 3 years, 8 months ago

"Brutal loss," yes. "Head-scratching loss" would be apt as well. Only one head-scratcher: The Coach's maxim of "seven is more than three" might be true -- at least on 4th-and-a-few. But usually strategy and maturity beats arithmetic. For example, on 4th-and-14, three is a whole bunch more than nuttin'. Especially when the nuttin' psychs the bad guys so much they march down the field and score seven. (I hope there's a full-length mirror in Coach's office. He might consider some serious self-reflection, on many facets.)

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