Published September 15, 2012http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd">
1. Before I write anything critical of Youngstown State's performance, I want to give Albany credit for being much better than I expected. I thought it would be a 42-14 game and, man, I was wrong.
2. The Great Danes opened the game with a flea flicker that went for a touchdown and had a terrific offensive game plan all night. I thought they called the game a lot like YSU did against Pitt: aggressive, creative and effective. They might have 25 fewer scholarship players but this wasn't a case of YSU overlooking an opponent. The Penguins just got outplayed.
3. Afterward, YSU coach Eric Wolford spun it positively, saying his team will benefit from playing in a close game with Northern Iowa looming but I don't buy it. If the Penguins play like that next week, they've got no shot.
4. Albany's offense used the Penguins' athleticism and aggression against them, relying on misdirection plays and a lot of quick passes to keep them on their heels. True, YSU held the Great Danes to two field goals in the second half but it was more because of big plays than anything else. And if Albany running back Drew Smith hadn't dropped a sure touchdown pass on the first play of the fourth quarter, it could have been a very different game.
5. YSU TE Will Shaw had a tough game, dropping one deep pass and fumbling away another. But YSU's passing problems went beyond him. Andre Stubbs made a couple big catches but also had a big drop. And all of YSU's receivers need to do a better job of getting separation. If they can't get open against Albany's DBs, they're in real trouble against Northern Iowa. It's obvious that the Penguins miss WR Jelani Berassa, whose size (6-4), speed and reliable hands opened things up for Christian Bryan.
6. One bright spot so far this season has been YSU's special teams, which has done a better job both in returning kicks and in covering them. Linebacker Ali Cheaib blocked a punt for the second straight week and it's only a matter of time before Stubbs breaks one.
7. I expect YSU defensive coordinator Joe Tresey to be a lot more creative next week with his coverages and blitzes and I expect YSU offensive coordinator Shane Montgomery to call things more aggressively, which is what he did against Pitt.
8. YSU reverted to 2011 mode when it came to Jamaine Cook, running him 33 times. That's too many. He reminds me of Linus' blanket -- YSU's coaches seem to get separation anxiety when he's not in the game. With Torrian Pace running as well as he have through three weeks, they need to cut down on Cook's snaps.
9. When Wolford finished up with his press conference, I asked his wife whether he would sleep tonight.
"I hope so," she said.
"I doubt it," I thought.
10. YSU has had good-but-not-great crowds for its first two home games. And the fans haven't exactly been wild. (Most people seemed content to stay seated during the game's biggest plays on Saturday.) It'll be interesting to see what kind of crowd -- and what kind of atmosphere -- YSU can get for Saturday night's showdown with UNI.
I expect this to be a big storyline all next week.