YSU - November started off better for YSU quarterback Kurt Hess. In last week's win against South Dakota, Hess threw for 133 yards on 11-of 17-passing. He had one touchdown, which tied him for the career mark for passing touchdowns. More important, he didn't throw an interception. Hopefully now Hess feels a little less pressure in his play.
WIU - The quarterback carousel has been going on at Western Illinois. This season, three different quarterbacks have taken significant snaps for the Leathernecks (Wil Lunt, Josh Hudson and Hayden Northern). Last week against UNI, Lunt got the start, but Northern saw time. Lunt is again pegged as the starter this week.
EDGE - YSU
YSU - Jamaine Cook literally carried YSU on his back last week. The senior ran the ball 42 times for 203 yards and a touchdown. Expect to see a lot more of Cook and company today as the Leathernecks are allowing 184.8 yards per game.
WIU - With the instability in the passing game, Western Illinois has been reliant on the running game. The two backs the Leathernecks utlize are Nikko Watson and Caulton Ray. Watson has 146 carries for 636 yards. Ray has 150 carries for 545 yards. However, the running game has only scored five touchdowns this season.
EDGE - YSU
YSU - Andre Stubbs sat out last week with a shoulder injury. Coach Eric Wolford said he could have played, but Stubbs is not listed on any depth chart this week. Michael Wheary is getting the start in place of Stubbs. Wheary also started last week.
WIU - It's hard to develop a passing game when the quarterbacks change almost every play. The passing game is averaging 106.7 yards per game, with Charles Chestnut and Fredson Salomon both averaging 36 yards per contest.
EDGE - YSU
YSU - With the YSU offense putting up 228 yards on the ground last week, obviously the line did their job. Sticking out the most was left guard Lamar Mady. The lineman was named Offensive Lineman of the Week in the conference, grading out to 85 percent with seven pancake blocks. For another week, Kyle Bryant will be getting the start for the injuried Andrew Radakovich.
WIU - The Leathernecks have allowed 19 sacks in nine games, which is just over two per outing. The running game puts up decent yardage per contest (130.7) but has only scored five touchdowns.
EDGE - YSU
YSU - Defensive tackle Aronde Stanton is without a doubt the defensive MVP for the Penguins this year. His play over the last few weeks has ben outstanding - and therefore has revved up the play of the rest of the line. Last week's game-sealing hit - a sack by Stanton and Josh Fenderson - might be the hardest hit I've seen in any of their games this season. In the last three games the line has garnered 10 sacks.
WIU - The defensive woes start on the line, as this unit has allowed opponents 184.8 yards per game. Also, there hasn't been a lot of pressure on the quarterback as the team has only registered nine sacks.
EDGE - YSU
YSU -For the first time, maybe all season, two linebackers lead the team in total tackles. Travis Williams has a team high 50 and Teven Williams is next with 47. This is how it is supposed to be. These two are both sophomores and have some great hitting potential. They could be lethal weapons for the Penguins in the coming years.
WIU - Middle linebacker J.J. Raffelson leads the team with 85 tackles. The tackles-for-loss leader is weakside linebacker Devon Butler with 5.5. Total, the defense is allowing 356.2 yards per game. That's a lot of yards.
EDGE - YSU
YSU - The secondary had a much improved week last week, only allowing 85 yards. Some of that low production is from some good YSU plays, some were from South Dakota not being very good in the passing game. Again this week, WIU's passing is a bit shaky, so the Penguins have the potential for another productive day. However, this doesn't mean all the secondary problems are now fixed. The Penguins are still last in the conference in pass defense.
WIU - Statistically wise, this is the one area the Leathernecks fair well in the conference. They are third in pass defense, only allowing 171.4 yards per game and have picked off opposing QBs 14 times. Cornerback Martinez Davis leads the team with five interceptions and four pass breakups. Two of those interceptions were returned for touchdowns.
EDGE - WIU
YSU - The special teams had another sub-par game against South Dakota. Kicker David Brown missed his first PAT in 36 attempts and also had a field goal blocked. Christian Bryan fumbled a punt return, but recovered it. The errors on this unit are not hard to fix mistakes.
WIU -Field goal kicker Pat Smith is 10 for 10 this season, including a long of 46 yards. In terms of returns, the special teams haven't been very productive, only averaging 15 yards on kick returns and 4 yards on punt returns.
EDGE - Even
As Wolford said after last week's win, it wasn't pretty, but it was a victory. And it gets the Penguins out of a horrible slump.
I?predict another victory for YSU?this week. Western Illinois is in a state of flux, with a rotating quarterback situation and a non-productive running game.
The Penguins need this game to have any chance of the postseason, which is still mathematically possible.
I?expect a lot of Cook running and for Hess to become the all-time leader in career touchdowns after today.