YOUNGSTOWN -- Coach Eric Wolford and the Youngstown State university Penguins live by the "24-hour rule." That is, you get 24 hours to either celebrate a win or mourn a loss, then move on to next week's game.
Considering Northern Iowa is coming to town in six days, and the Penguins didn't exactly have the best game against Albany on Saturday, I think YSU should implore the 12-hour rule.
Without a doubt, this is the biggest game of the young season for Youngstown State. It's the first game of conference play, against an opponent that has beat the Penguins every year since 2000. That alone should get the Penguins fired up for Saturday's game under the lights. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.
For the Penguins to be able to do something they haven't done since 2000, it's going to take a hard week on the practice field for both units - as there were many things that happened during the Albany victory that need to be handled before the Penguins take the field on Saturday.
Offensively, I hope the receivers got the drops out of their system. Tight end Will Shaw had a very unlike Will Shaw type day, having two big drops that he normally doesn't have. Also, the receivers weren't creating space like they have. Now give credit to Albany's defense for keeping the YSU receivers in check, but they have to be able to get some separation so the running game's shoulders don't get too heavy. Because after the performance against Albany, I'm pretty sure UNI is going to know how they will want to contain Jamaine Cook.
Also, the line got pushed around for the first time this season, and it left quarterback Kurt Hess in some vulnerable situations. That can't happen against a team like UNI.
Defensively, the linebackers and the defensive backs have to step up and make some big plays.
There have been no interceptions this year, and a few passes have been broken up, but none that standout in my mind as "almost picked off."?A big turnover can have a huge swing in momentum, especially against an opponent like UNI. If anyone on the defense is going to step up, this would be the game to do it.
Again against Albany, third down has been the weakness of the defense. Defensive lineman Aronde Stanton even said after the game they knew they played well on first and second down, but couldn't get it done on third. If the Penguins can get some big third-down stops, especially when it comes down to a field position game, that could be the difference between a win and a loss.
All season, the players and coaches have been saying all the right things to make people believe that this team is different, and they are the group that's going to bring back the glory days to Youngstown State. If that is true, it will be seen this Saturday.