by Drae Smith
Host of "The Drae Smith Show" Tuesdays 7pm-9pm
1. Missouri State is a very bad team
Youngstown State had a dominating 47-7 win this past Saturday at home against Missouri State. However, much of that had to do with the Bears playing at a very low level. After Saturday’s loss, they are now 1-8 overall and 0-5 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference. They are playing a great amount of young players and have not been competitive in most of their games. All of that being said, it was a positive sign to see the Penguins grab control of the game early and never look back. The team was focused, had no let down and did what they were expected to do.
2. The Penguins are building confidence
Even though Missouri State is clearly the league’s worst team, it does appear that YSU is starting to regain the confidence they lost after a three game losing streak earlier in the season. The offense had probably their best performance of the season, amassing 644 total yards and six touchdowns. QB Hunter Wells was 15 of 25 for 241 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. WR Andrew Williams caught four passes for 100 yards and two scores. Andre Stubbs added five receptions for 53 yards and a touchdown. RB Jody Webb collected 111 rushing yards and a score while Martin Ruiz added 100 yards and a touchdown of his own.
3. Martin Ruiz getting back into form
After being hampered by injuries earlier in the year, RB Martin Ruiz is starting to look more like the star player we have seen during his first two seasons. Ruiz has been a second team All-Missouri Valley Football Conference selection the past two years, rushing for over 1,000 yards in both campaigns. The junior from Tampa, FL became the seventh YSU player in history to rush for more than 3,000 career yards last week. He now has 669 yards this season and 3,025 in his career. The Penguins will need Ruiz to play at a high level if they want to keep their playoff hopes alive.
4. Pelini’s defense is getting more comfortable
The Youngstown State defense has been vastly improved under new Head Coach Bo Pelini. They have been atop the FCS in passing defense all season and are now starting to playing at an elite level up front. The unit held Missouri State to just 43 yards on the ground and only 64 through the air. LB Lee Wright led the way for the Penguins with nine total tackles and a forced fumble. He said after the game that this defense is still learning Coach Pelini’s intricate system and feels more comfortable with each game.
5. Playoff hopes still alive
The Penguins have now won two games in a row to remain in the hunt for a berth in the FCS playoffs. They will need to win their final two games to have any chance at postseason play. While YSU has played well the past few weeks, they will need to step up their play even more if want to have any chance of winning this week. They will host North Dakota State, the four-time defending National Champions, this Saturday at Stambaugh Stadium. They will then end the regular season on the road against Indiana State, another playoff team from last season.