10 thoughts on YSU's win over RMU
by Joe Scalzo - "A blog about YSU Penguin athletics, not the insides of penguins." | 155 entries
1. As I was walking to Saturday's postgame press conference, I ran into one of Youngstown State's coaches, who just shook his head and said, "Incredible. A win's a win, but it should never have been that close."
That was pretty much the vibe in the press conference, too. Coaches like to play the, "I told everyone Robert Morris was a tough team and you can never overlook anybody" card, but to Pelini's credit, he didn't. He knows if the Penguins want to be a playoff team, they can't play like they did on Saturday.
2. Pelini was complimentary of Robert Morris, obviously, but it's not like the Colonials are an FCS powerhouse. They went 1-10 last year. They haven't had a winning record since 2010. They lost to Dayton last week.
"I've been coaching long enough to realize how much respect you have to have for this game and how hard wins are to come by at times," Pelini said. "I don't think we played our best football today. We obviously made a lot of mistakes, especially early in the football game. I wouldn't call it flat. But we left a lot of things out there."
3. There are two things that would concern me right now. The first is YSU's run defense, which gave up 325 yards last week and another 152 on Saturday.
Now, the 152 doesn't sound like much, but it wasn't like RMU quarterback Matthew Barr was a big passing threat. He completed 2 of 11 passes for 16 yards and ran nine times for minus-13 yards. The only guy on RMU's offense that scared anyone was Ramses Owens, but YSU couldn't stop him, giving up 152 yards on 33 carries with two TDs.
Pelini's defense is geared toward stopping the run first, but as Nebraska fans can tell you, that didn't always happen. Especially in Wisconsin games.
The Penguins need to get this fixed fast because the best teams in the MVFC are also the best running teams.
4. The other concern is YSU quarterback Hunter Wells, who completed just 11 of 27 passes for 107 yards. He did have two touchdowns and no interceptions, but he wasn't sharp. And unlike last week, he didn't face much pressure.
YSU's receivers didn't help him much, dropping several passes, but Wells really hasn't had a standout game in awhile.
Wells basically took over as YSU's quarterback in the second MVFC game last year, against Western Illinois. (He did start against Butler, but that's because Dante Nania was hurt.)
Here are his numbers in his first five conference games: 77 of 129 (60 percent), 1,192 yards (238.4 per game), 7 TDs, 3 interceptions
Here are his numbers over the last four games: 56 of 114 (49 percent), 622 yards (155.5 per game), 6 TDs, 4 interceptions.
I realize that's a small sample size, but to my eyes, he hasn't looked quite as good since the first half of last year's loss to Illinois State in Week 10.
Just something to keep an eye on.
5. I was a little surprised to hear Pelini call out YSU's fans after Saturday's game.
"I'm going to challenge the rest of the fans -- if you want to be a fan, be a fan," he said. "If you want to have a winner, you better support this team and get people in the seats."
I'm always reluctant to criticize people for not attending games, since I get paid to watch games in a dry press box while everyone else on Saturday was stuck in wet, chilly weather. But this is not a new complaint. Eric Wolford said the same thing.
As one YSU administrator told me Saturday night, "If it ain't 80 degrees and sunny, they're not coming. That's just how it is in this town."
Of course, it would probably help if YSU made the playoffs more than once in the last 15 years. I guess I see both sides on this one.
6. Last week, I thought YSU looked like a playoff team, just as I did during training camp. This week, I thought the Penguins looked like a team in big trouble.
Maybe Saturday was just a weird day. It was filled with upsets and near-upsets across college football, from Auburn surviving against Jacksonville State to Notre Dame somehow beating Virginia to Toledo beating Arkansas to Houston beating Louisville to Florida nearly losing to East Carolina.
Maybe YSU's victory is part of that. Or maybe it's the beginning of a bad trend. Heck if I know.
7. One person on Twitter asked me if I thought Pelini would be on the hot seat with another performance like Saturday's. I said I thought he'd be fired immediately, with YSU hiring away Bob Stoops during the bye week.
I was kidding, of course. I think YSU would target Mark Dantonio, since he has experience here.
8. YSU defensive end Derek Rivers had 4.5 tackles for loss on Saturday, including the game-clinching sack. Derek Rivers got double-teamed a lot on Saturday. Derek Rivers is a bad man.
9. I appreciated this quote from I'tavious Harvin after Saturday's game: "Our mindset of Robert Morris [was] a team not like Pitt, so that kind of minimized our focus."
At least he admitted it. I thought it was going to be a blowout, too.
10. I also appreciated this quote from Rivers: "We do that [play that badly] in conference, we're definitely going to get whupped. We're about 65-70 percent away from what we can be.
"We're gonna get better. I promise you that."