Published September 7, 2013
1. After Youngstown State quarterback Kurt Hess finished up Saturday's post-game interviews, he turned to sports information director Trevor Parks and said, "Those are easy."
He was talking about the press conference, but he could have been talking about the game, too.
Any discussion of the Penguins' win has to come with this qualifier: it came against a non-scholarship FCS team that had just lost to an NAIA team. This was the second-most lopsided game of Eric Wolford's tenure, rivaled only by the 2011 game against Valparaiso, which YSU won 77-13.
2. Now that we've got that out of the way, let me say this: YSU did exactly what it was supposed to do, which was dominate a lesser opponent.
That didn't happen in last week's 28-10 win over Dayton.
Unlike last week, Kurt Hess was accurate and efficient, completing 16 of 19 passes for 282 yards and three TDs. The defense looked fast and physical. The special teams had their weekly gaffe (a fumbled kickoff return from Andre Stubbs, the second straight week he's done that) but they also converted a 2-point pass and a field goal (a 37-yarder by Joey Cejudo, his first).
In short, it was a good confidence-booster heading into the first big test of the season: next Saturday's game against Michigan State.
3. I liked what I saw of Dante Nania, who played most of the second half and completed 5 of 10 passes for 77 yards. He's not going to challenge Hess for playing time, but he made some good throws, including a nice slant to TE Kintrell Disher on the two-point conversion.
I also thought it was interesting that Tanner Garry (a walk-on from Bowling Green who, like Nania, was briefly switched to safety in the spring) came in before Nick Wargo (a redshirt freshman on scholarship). Wargo had a solid spring game but I didn't see much of either of them in the summer.
4. Speaking of freshmen, YSU had two of them go over 100 yards rushing in Jody Webb (11 carries, 122 yards, 3 TDs) and Martin Ruiz (six carries, 117 yards, two TDs). They were one of the major reasons the score got so high -- they're a threat to score a touchdown on every play.
"Martin Ruiz is a talented guy, he runs low, he's physical and he can hit a home run," Wolford said. "And Jody Webb, sometimes you don't even have to block for him."
5. How about Marcel Caver? He made five catches for 113 yards and a TD and showed why the coaches were so excited about him in the spring.
"He works hard," Wolford said. "He probably overdoes it on Sunday, running routes against air. He's really an overachiever and he's still working on his craft. He's got a chance to be special."
6. YSU's defense had eight tackles for loss, including two by emerging monster LB Travis Williams. The Penguins have put a lot of pressure on opposing quarterbacks through the first two games, which is a good sign.
(Especially since North Dakota State QB Brock Jensen could have had a cup of coffee in his left hand during most of last year's win over YSU. Jensen reminds me of Alabama QB A.J. McCarron in that you have no idea how good he really is, since his offensive line is so stinking good.)
Some of it is because they're playing faster in the second year of Joe Tresey's system, which allows them to do more blitzing and stunting, but as DE Kyle Sirl said earlier in the week, a lot of it just comes down to beating the guy in front of you.
"Stunts and blitzes are all good, but it doesn't mean anything if you can't beat the guy you're supposed to beat straight up," Sirl said. "I think that's something we've gotten better at, just playing base technique."
7. Not to belabor the point, but Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany's comments about FCS schools being JV teams looks just as dumb this week. (I wrote a column about this earlier this week, which you can read here.)
True, the MVFC went 0-2 against the Big Ten on Saturday but both games were competitive:
Purdue beat Indiana State 20-14 thanks to a last-second interception and Iowa beat Missouri State 28-14.
If the Big Ten wants to stop scheduling FCS schools in order to add BCS opponents or because it's harder to sell tickets, fine. But to lump all FCS schools into the same category is absurd. The last few years have shown that most Missouri Valley teams are on the same level as those in lower-level FBS conferences.