YOUNGSTOWN - Coach Eric Wolford and the Youngstown State University football team heavily implement the "24-hour rule." Being, whether win or lose, you have 24 hours to celebrate or mourn, then move on.
Sticking to the rule, the Penguins are done talking about their 31-17 upset victory over the University of Pittsburgh at Heinz Field this past Saturday. But just because they don't dwell on a victory or loss, that doesn't mean they can't learn from past mistakes. Specifically, not looking past an opponent after a big victory.
"It's just something that we learned our lesson by looking past an opponent so we never want to do that again," senior running back Jamaine Cook said.
The Associated Press
Youngstown State running back Jamaine Cook (35) runs past Pittsburgh defensive lineman Aaron Donald (97). Cook said that the Penguins have moved on from the Pittsburgh win and are now focused on the home opener against Valparaiso on Saturday at Stambaugh Stadium.
Cook is talking about last season after the Penguins defeated North Dakota State, then lost to Missouri State the very next week, which kept them out of the postseason.
"It's not real hard (to keep them focused) after what happened a few months ago," Wolford said. "We're an older, more mature football team. We're a hungry football team. And, I hope we learned our lesson about focusing on what we can control, being ready to play every week and the opponent is not the factor. It's about us. It's about our preparation over the course of the week."
That being said, the Penguins are solely focused on Valparaiso, which lost 36-34 to Saint Joseph's in its season opener. Considering YSU beat the Crusaders, 77-13, last season, it would be easy for the Penguins to start looking ahead to Albany, or even UNI the following week. But not this year's squad. They have learned from past mistakes.
"I feel like we learned our lesson from Missouri State last year," tight end Will Shaw said. "We don't want to come in and take anything for granted. Each week, every day, we want to get better."
Even though the Penguins had their way with the Panthers in many facets on Saturday, there is still room for improvement. Cook and Shaw both said the offense is focusing on technique and fundamentals to try and make the high-powered offense even better. As for the defense, Wolford had specific situations for that group to focus on during the week.
"I felt like we wanted to be a lot better on third down," Wolford said. "I thought we did a great job of creating some turnovers, but we want to be better on third down. That's something that we talk about all the time. We got them in third and medium, third and long, and missed tackle or bad eyes, and those are technique things we can get squared away. There is always room for improvement."
While the team is trying to improve on the field, the YSU athletic department is trying to improve the attendance at Penguin games. In the midst of the victory over Pitt, the athletic department opened the ticket office on Labor Day, and sold more than 1,000 tickets for Saturday's home opener. Knowing the excitement of the city and the fans, Shaw said he and the rest of the team are ready to show the town that Saturday's victory wasn't a fluke.
"It's great to have the community behind us," Shaw said. "We look looking forward to having all the fans here on Saturday at the Ice Castle for our home opener."