CURBSTONE COACHES: YSU’s Doug Phillips said there are no ‘moral victories’ after loss to UK
BEAVER TOWNSHIP — To a select few, the Penguins’ 31-0 defeat at the hands of the Kentucky Wildcats this past Saturday might have been a moral victory.
YSU head coach Doug Phillips, currently in his third season at the helm, assured the Curbstone Coaches during Monday’s weekly luncheon meeting that there is no such thing as a moral victory with him or his team.
“There are no moral victories with us,” Phillips told the group assembled at Avion Banquet Center. “We work too hard and put in too much time for a moral victory. We made some mistakes but we will learn from them and move forward.”
Phillips also told the group that he was proud his team never quit and gave UK all they could handle for four quarters.
“I will never be disappointed in the fight our players give and they fought the entire game last Saturday at Kentucky,” he added.
Despite this being Phillips’ third season at the helm, the ’22 campaign is his first having his squad from January through the summer in preparation of the season.
“That is the No. 1 difference-maker,” he stated. “Having those guys come here in January and start in the weight room with the new strength coach, Jimmy Rodenberg, who made a huge difference in the strength and size of our kids, was key. Those kids working together is big because training in the offseason is what develops you so you can handle the tough times in-season. The one thing I see is the camaraderie in the locker room and it is incredible. We’re not where we need to be and we talk about that all the time, but I think as weeks go by you will continue to see improvement.”
YSU will use their bye week to regroup then on October 1 wil begin Missouri Valley Football Conference play at North Dakota State, traveling to the Fargodome to meet a Bison program that has won nine of last 11 FCS national championships.
“It’s challenging and I cannot wait,” Phillips noted. “These are measuring sticks. To be able to go into Kentucky and see if our offensive and defensive lines can withhold, the same thing can be said about North Dakota State. We didn’t handle it well at all last November so to be able to see what growth we’ve made in a year, I am excited for that challenge.
“The bye week gives some of these guys who have been playing a lot of football since August 2 a chance to heal. Plus, we’ve got a lot of young kids and that light starts coming on for them on scout teams so on a bye week, we can really focus and develop the youth of our team, seeing who can help us the remaining part of the season.”
Phillips has also taken note of the FCS teams who have defeated top-notch FBS programs and giving others a run for their money just three weeks into the season.
“Look at Southern Illinois last weekend, going to Northwestern and winning so on any given Saturday there’s an opportunity,” he said. “Last weekend we had an opportunity in the first quarter. You need to make some plays, you need some things to happen for you and it’s really a game of inches. If you can make those plays when you need to and you don’t make mistakes, whether it’s offensively, defensively or special teams, there are opportunities on any given Saturday. Anybody can win those football games and it is proven when you see those scores.
“Should Notre Dame beat Marshall, yes, but if Notre Dame makes some mistakes and Marshall doesn’t and Marshall capitalizes in that game, they are going to come out on top. You play every game to win. Again, there are no moral victories here so it’s going back to the drawing board and finding out how you can execute better and eliminate the mistakes you have made.”
Phillips also addressed the transfer portal and the impact it has had on teams.
“It is something you must deal with so you better thrive in it,” he added. “I think the transfer portal, first and foremost for us, it is almost like free agency. Where do we need more competition, at what position and it has really helped us.
“You look in our secondary, bringing in Marcus Hooker and Caleb Burr. Devin Lee had a great game last Saturday on the defensive line and Jaelen Crider is also picking it up on the defensive line so for us, it’s about our needs. The portal allows your younger players to develop another year without throwing them on the field before they are ready.”
Next Monday, Dana Balash, WFMJ-TV, Channel 21 sports director will serve as guest speaker.