YSU - Kurt Hess can't wait for the month of October to be over. Since Oct. 6 (which is the date of the first of YSU's three losses) Hess has thrown four interceptions (he hadn't had one before the month began)?and only two touchdowns in three games. Even in three losses, he's still completing 59 percent of his passes and averaging 183 yards per game, but until the Penguins get back to the winning side of the ball, Hess will not be at happy QB.
SDSU - Even with Hess being down,?he still has the edge on SDSU?quarterback Austin Sumner. The sophomore is only completing 53 percent of his passes and has only thrown for five touchdowns this season. Overall, he's 96 of 181 and thrown 12 interceptions.
EDGE - YSU
YSU - Jamaine Cook and the YSU running game has been the tale of the two halves, especially in the last two weeks. That is the biggest thing the offense needs to correct this week. This running game can be lethal - but only if it can produce all four quarters.
SDSU - The YSU defense better be ready for sophomore running back Zach Zenner. The 6-foot, 215 pound back is averaging 194.3 yards per game. He's compiled 1,360 yards this season and averages 7.7 yards per carry. He's also scored eight touchdowns.
EDGE - SDSU
YSU -With the struggles Hess has been having the past few weeks, the receivers have been quiet. Leading the team in terms of yardage is Andre Stubbs with 261 yards. Will Shaw is behind him with 253 and the biggest improvement in the group in the past weeks has been Andrew Williams, who now has 14 catches for 233 yards.
SDSU -Tyrel Kool leads the Jackrabbits with 20 catches for 204 yards. Following Kool is Brandon Hubert with 211 catches. The receivers have only caught five touchdowns this season, but that is largely due to the production from the running game.
YSU - The line has had its share of struggles over the past few weeks, including some injuries that have made some reserves step into the game plan. Andrew Radakovich still isn't back to full strength. Stephen Page took a few snaps at center last week for Mark Pratt. This unit had been the strength of YSU and in the past few weeks, has been one of the weaker areas. If they can get the bugs out, then I think the entire team will begin to get back to the ways of winning ball.
SDSU - When you have a running back averaging nearly 200 yards a game, it's safe to say the offensive line is doing its job. As well as the line has done in terms of creating running room for Zenner, the line hasn't done such a great job protecting Sumner, as he's been sacked 11 times.
EDGE - Even
YSU - Aronde Stanton played out of his mind last week against Southern Illinois. He recorded 10 tackles and 4.5 for loss. However, the line will probably face its toughest assignment of the season this week with keeping Zenner in check. Most of the teams YSU has faced this season have been pass first, so actually going against a running team will prove to be a good challenge for the defensive line
SDSU - As well as the Jackrabbits run the ball, they stop the run just as well. SDSU is allowing 114.7 yards per game. The group also likes to attack the quarterback. Defensive end Marshall Peugh has five sacks on the season and nose tackle David Hettiger adds four sacks.
EDGE - SDSU
YSU - The linebackers will definitely need to assist the line on stopping Zenner, as he's averaging more than 7 yards per carry. Travis Williams led the team last week against the Salukis with 13 tackles and two quarterback hurries. It will be nice to see if the defense can have two good outings in a row.
SDSU -The Penguins needs to watch out for weakside linebacker Ross Shafrath, who leads the team with 76 tackles. He's also intercepted two passes. Middle linebacker T.J. Lally is also a threat, recording 57 tackles, 4 for loss, and 4 sacks this season.
EDGE - SDSU
YSU - This would be a perfect game for the secondary to show some improvement, as they are last in the conference in pass defense. Sumner is mistake prone as he's thrown 12 interceptions. Also, the SDSU receivers haven't shown a "big play threat"?this season. The Penguins need to make sure that when their number is called, they are ready, because if SDSU has a good passing day, then the Penguins are going to be in trouble.
SDSU - Strong safety Skyler Luxa has 33 tackles this season and two interceptions. Free safety Bo Helmp has 37 tackles and has broken up six passes. The Jackrabbits are allowing 151.9 yards per game this season. However, they have picked off opposing quarterbacks seven times, so Hess needs to make sure he's making smart decisions under center.
YSU -?By far this was the worst unit in last week's loss. Yes, the blocked punt put a big shining light on the unit, but Stubbs, who is normally reliable in the returner position, misplayed almost every catch he received, including two fumbles. Hopefully, those are out of his system, because those were huge game turners last week.
SDSU - The Jackrabbits' have shown they can pull out the big play on special teams. Kool has a kick return for a touchdown this season, and the team as a whole is averaging 26.8 yards on kick returns. Kicker Justin Syrovatka is 9 of 13 on field goals this season, making all seven from the 20-29 yards range, then 2 for 6 from distances OF more than 30 yards.
EDGE - SDSU
There are no more excuses to make for the Penguins any more, it's time to walk the walk along with talking the talk.
The Penguins have lost two straight games they shouldn't have. They were leading in both contests and watched the lead slip away in the second half. Playoff teams don't let that happen.
And if the Penguins can't turn the ship around this week against South Dakota State, playoffs are probably not in the cards this year. Without a doubt, they need to win their last four games - and probably get some help - if they want to see football in December.
However, until they turn the boat around, I can't pick YSU on the road against a very tough South Dakota State team. The defense for the Jackrabbits has been consistent all year, and they are at the top of the conference for a reason.
If the Penguins surprise me, I'll admit my error. However, I need to see the walk. I've heard enough talk.