YOUNGSTOWN - On the surface, not many positives could be taken away from the devastating 48-7 loss the Youngstown State Penguins suffered from the hands of the North Dakota State Bison. But underneath the film and in between the stats, the loss did produce some positives for the Penguins.
"I think it was a good learning lesson, a great lesson for us," YSU coach Eric Wolford said. "It's a lesson about the things we always talk about. Turnovers, third down, and I think you have to take things like that, that happen, adversity, or difficult times and learn from it. If we don't learn from it, then it's going to happen again.
"We learned our lesson. That's the exciting thing is, it happened at a point where it cost a loss. If we learned that lesson late in the year, it could be fatal."
While the Penguins are determined to not let the loss define the season, the players are refocused and ready to show the conference that last week's loss was nothing more than a one-time occurrence.
"We have a good mindset and we're eager to get back to work," tight end Will Shaw said. "We are focused on getting better, focusing on things we need to correct. And moving forward and getting ready to prepare for Illinois State."
Getting back to their winning ways won't be a cake walk for the 4-1 Penguins, as the Redbirds are also 4-1. Like YSU, Illinois State just suffered its first loss of the season last week as well, as Southern Illinois rallied to defeat the Redbirds, 17-0.
"Illinois State is coming off a tough loss at their home," Wolford said. "Much like us, I expect them to rebound and get a great effort from their football team."
To be able to defeat the Redbirds for the second straight year, and to avoid the second conference loss of the season, the Penguins know they have to get back to their brand of football, which was something the Bison were able to take away from them on Saturday.
"We're a team who likes to run the ball first and pound down teams," offensive lineman Andrew Radakovich said. "If we try to simply drop back and be a finesse team, well that's not really our style. It's not fancy plays, but we're hard working and we're going to keep hitting you in the mouth until you quit and we can't let teams get us out of that."
While that is important to the Penguins' success, Wolford said the main way to get back to the winning side of the ball is basic fundamentals - and learning lessons from the past.
"We have to get more turnovers on defense," Wolford said. "We have to continue to take care of the football. It's the first time that it's really stepped up and been a glaring thing. It's a good lesson. Turn the ball over a bunch, you're going to get taken to the woodshed."
The Penguins hope to bounce back at 2 p.m. Saturday at Illinois State.