Next up for the Dukes are the Penguins of YSU. Youngstown State is coming off of a lopsided 55-17 loss to the Michigan Spartans and will be looking to be Michigan to the Dukes’ YSU. While some YSU fans seem to be pretty frustrated with the loss (despite it being to a FBS school) and the position of the program in the MVFC lately, this is still a formidable opponent for the Dukes. They recently demolished Morehead State 67-13 and have a very capable team. Though admittedly Morehead State has problems of their own after a loss to an NAIA team, it was nonetheless an impressive performance. Let’s take a closer look.
Youngstown’s offense is led by senior quarterback Kurt Hess, who also holds the school record for career touchdown passes. He is capable of being incredibly efficient – in the Morehead State game, he was 16-19 for 282 yards. Of course, he was also capable of being ineffective. Dayton managed to take him out of the equation completely.
This is also an offense that likes to run. YSU garnered 726 yards in their two wins this season. Stopping the run will be a big key for Dorian Bell and the rest of the Dukes front seven if they plan on having any sort of success on Saturday. There is no one solution, as the ‘Guins already have three different backs who have racked up 100 yards in a single game this year. Injured RB Desmond Hymes is due to come back after hurting his hamstring last year and should see action this week. Speaking of injuries, one of those 100-yard backs, Adaris Bellamy, has been MIA since his performance against Dayton. I’ve heard something about an ankle injury there.
The upheaval at running back could benefit the Dukes. the Morehead State performance was impressive, but the Eagles are a pretty bad team. The offense has also had a few turnover issues, which could also play in the Dukes favor.
The YSU defense was able to do what Duquesne could not and contain Dayton’s Will Bardo, forcing him to pass and make mistakes. In general, this is a team that is very good at stopping the run. Duquesne will need to learn some lessons from the loss to Dayton and ensure that the offense is ready for the pressure that the Penguins will put on the backs. Buechel will need to get screens and other short passes to connect and give him some breathing room or he’s not going to get a lot of time to throw.
On the other hand, Youngstown State hasn’t seen an offense like Duquesne’s yet. Morehead State is simply ineffective, and Dayton is at least 70-30 run-based. The pass plays that DU features will be a first for YSU this season, and it’ll be interesting to see how their secondary responds.
Reports have it that Jamarious Boatwright, the nickleback, is injured and may be done for the year. Boatwright had an interception this year against Dayton.
YSU is coming off of a difficult loss, even if it was to a school from the FCS. They will need to bounce back. At the same time, conference play begins for the Penguins after this game, so there’s the possibility of a trap scenario developing here.
This will not be an easy game. This is a solid team from one of the best conferences in I-AA. Coming up, we’ll look at keys for the Dukes and how they might be able to pull out a win over YSU in a tough environment.