All or Nothing

The YSU Football Team Must Win Out to Make Playoffs

By Marc Weems

With the Youngstown State University football team coming off a 24-3 loss at North Dakota State University, the Penguins will look to redeem themselves against Southern Illinois University. Last season, YSU lost to SIU 38-31 in overtime.

“Well, all the games are important and our goals are to play in the playoffs and to go deep,” YSU head coach Bo Pelini said. “We need to get better and we need to get better. It happens that Southern Illinois is the next one up.”

Youngstown State University quarterback Nathan Mays stands in the pocket and looks downfield during YSU’s win over the University of Northern Iowa.

Although YSU only mustered three points against NDSU while giving up 24 points, the defense has given up a Missouri Valley Football Conference leading 16.4 points per game. The offense, however, is at the bottom of the conference with 21.6 points per game.

“You just have to bounce back from things,” YSU linebacker Jamar Pinnock said. “You can either lay down or are you going to get up and be a better team. I think we will be fine, and our confidence is up. We just have to do what we need to do.”

Even with the defense still playing well, the offense has struggled in recent weeks having scored 20 points or less in five straight games.

YSU offensive lineman Justin Spencer said that the team’s offensive struggles have come down to their execution of the offense. He said that they need to make sure they finish when they get close to the end zone.

Pelini said that some things have to change when it comes to how the offense executes. He said there are some things that the coaching staff has tweaked in the offense and that the team needs to change some stuff defensively.

“I wouldn’t say that our backs are up against the wall,” linebacker Jaylin Kelly said. “We know what’s at stake, and we have to go out and win from here on out if we want to accomplish our goals.”

With YSU’s goal being to reach the playoffs, they will most likely need to win their last two games against Southern Illinois and Missouri State University.

The Salukis average 31.3 points per game on offense while giving up 31.4 points per game on defense. In the same token, the SIU offense gains almost 460 yards per game, while their defense is giving up 430 yards a game.

“This game is a huge game, and these next two games are must wins for us,” Pinnock said. “I’m sure the coaches have a good game plan, so we will be fine.”

The offense has struggled slightly because of the influx of quarterbacks, and they will be looking for some type of consistency in their offense.

“We have had too many mental mistakes, and we take ourselves out of drives,” Spencer said. “Everything just comes back to our execution. We are just taking this thing one week, and obviously our goal is to make the playoffs.”

Pelini said the team is aware of “consequences” associated with a loss this week and expects his players to work harder with the playoffs on the line.

“You earn the right to play good, and you earn the confidence by preparing the right way,” Pelini said. “I’m not worried about what happens on Saturday, I’m worried about what happens today. There hasn’t been a guy that has reached his potential yet, and we need to keep pushing.”

Kickoff is scheduled at noon on Saturday at Stambaugh Stadium.