by Drae Smith
Host of "The Drae Smith Show" Thursdays 8am-10am
The Youngstown State football team will play their home opener this Saturday night against Robert Morris. Kickoff is slated for 7pm at Stambaugh Stadium with the tailgate lots opening up at 1pm. The Penguins are currently ranked 17th and are coming off a tough, hard fought loss at Pittsburgh last week. This will be the first ever meeting between YSU and Robert Morris. The Colonials also lost last week, falling 27-24 to the Dayton Flyers.
This will also be the first home game for Bo Pelini as head coach in his hometown. At his weekly press conference on Tuesday, Pelini downplayed the significance of his first YSU home game, saying “It’s not about me, its about this football team and these kids.” However, he did emphasize the importance of re-creating a great home field advantage at the Ice Caste, saying “Hopefully we can fill these stands up. I want to challenge this community to fill these stands up.” He also went on to say, “I think it is important for this program going forward that we can fill this place up on a regular basis.”
A big crowd is expected for Saturday’s game as the Guins look to earn their first win of the season. In order to do so they will have to beat a Robert Morris team which appears to be much improved from years past. Coach Pelini said, “They’re a better football team now, not even close to where they were a year ago.” The Penguins will look to build upon last week’s performance and make improvements of their own. Coach Pelini said, “We need to make a big jump from game one to game two.”
Pelini said his team needs to play smarter, with more efficiency and with better execution. He stressed the importance of starting faster and playing better on early downs to stay out of third and long situations. He also mentioned the Penguins need to be better up front and limit big plays on defense. He stated that most of the issues he saw on tape are correctible and he’s confident they will play much better this week.
Coach Pelini said the team has no long-term injury issues but listed starting RB Martin Ruiz as “questionable” with a bruised thigh. Ruiz suffered the injury during the first half of last week’s game and did not return. Jody Webb and Demond Hymes will carry most of the load if Ruiz is not able to suit up. Webb stepped in and rushed for 127 yards with two scores last week against Pittsburgh.
YSU will look to continue a great streak of success in home openers. Dating back to the 1995 season, the Penguins have won 19 consecutive home openers. They have outscored their opponents 737-210 during that 19 game stretch. YSU fans can listen on 570 WKBN or watch the game live on ESPN3.com and the Watch ESPN app. The game will also be replayed locally later Saturday night on MyYTV.