Win and They’re In

YSU Has Its Eyes on the Playoffs

By Marc Weems

Now that the Youngstown State University football team has beaten Southern Illinois University, the team is one win from the playoffs. But, that doesn’t blind the team from the task ahead when they travel to play Missouri State University.

Youngstown State University linebacker Armand Dellovade (left) and defensive end Avery Moss (right) hit Southern Illinois University quarterback Sam Straub (4) after he attempted a deep pass on the final play of Saturday’s game.

The Penguins look to beat MSU in order to make the playoffs for the first time since 2006, when John Heacock was the head coach and Tommy Zetts was playing quarterback.

“We are definitely ready to get after it this week. Everyone has been excited for Tuesday’s preparation,” defensive tackle Cody Squiric said. “We have the same mindset every week, and we always talk about it. The goal is to go 1-0 every week and that’s something the coaches always preach, because anybody can beat anybody in this league [Missouri Valley Football Conference].”

Now that YSU is one win away from the playoffs, they shift their focus to the Bears, and how they will attack them.

Yet again the defense held up last week and will look to do that again. Missouri State gains 326.3 yards per game while scoring 23.7 points per game.

On the other side, the Penguins have scored 21.5 points per game while gaining 385.7 yards per game.

With YSU’s offense struggling, the team seemed to correct its problems.

“Well Coach Bo [Pelini] came to all of us and said that something has got to change,” wide receiver Alvin Bailey said. “Something has got to give, but we have to keep pushing. We just have to continue to work hard this week and just keep getting better by working harder each and every day.”

YSU’s offense had struggled up until last week to put points on the board even when they moved the ball between the 20-yard lines.

“Well the preparation is really important, and we need to keep getting better this week.” YSU head coach Bo Pelini said about the upcoming week. “It’s the last regular season game of the year, and that’s what is next. We have to prepare all the same.”

Aside from YSU’s struggling offense, the Penguins defense has lived up to everything that has been talked about.

YSU’s defense has given up just 296.7 yards per game while giving up 16.2 points per game — the best in the Missouri Valley Football Conference.

Squiric said he thinks it’s really cool that making the playoffs would allow the players to create their own history, and that is important to the team. He said that now is the time to just get after it and get into the real grind of the year.

Pelini said that they will not overlook Missouri State and will play with the same attitude they play each and every game with.

Missouri State (4-6, 2-5 MVFC) will be looking to ruin YSU’s chance to get in, but Alvin Bailey thinks that won’t happen.

“We just have to get better each and every day and with every practice,” Bailey said. “Keeping the momentum up and feeding off that last game. We just need to execute and be sound in everything we do.”

Pelini said that there are no alarm bells going off, because SIU was able to tie the game last week. He said the defense was sharp and will continue to stay sharp while being alert as ever.

The Penguins travel to play Missouri State on Nov. 19 at 3 p.m. at Missouri State.