YSU - Senior Kurt Hess enters his final season as one of the most decorated quarterbacks of all time. He's the Penguins' all-time leader in touchdown passes (53), passing yards per game (202.9) and passer rating 141.78). The 6-foot-3, 230-pound Hess has all the physical tools. The lone knock on him is consistency.
UD -Will Bardo, a two-year starter, is a dual-threat quarterback, but he struggles with accuracy. He completed 152 of 306 passes (49 percent) for 1,687 yards, eight touchdowns and nine interceptions last year. The 6-3, 190-pound senior also ran for 405 yards and three TDs.
EDGE - YSU
YSU - The Penguins will be without Demond Hymes, who earned the starting job in the spring but injured his ankle in training camp. YSU is fortunate to have backups who are capable of filling the void. Senior Torrian Pace will get the start, but he'll almost certainly rotate with fellow senior Adaris Bellamy and possibly true freshman Martin Ruiz, who was the talk of camp. Pace (6-0, 235) is a powerful runner with decent speed, and Bellamy has a similar style but provides more agility.
UD - Running backs Connor Kacsor (6-0, 190) and Robert Washington (5-10, 180) played big roles in the Flyers' averaging 198.7 yards rushing per game last year. Washington had more yards (459) and touchdowns (6), but Kacsor averaged an impressive 10.5 yards per carry, finishing with 424 yards and five touchdowns and 40 carries.
EDGE - YSU
YSU - The Penguins have their top three wide receivers returning. Christian Bryan, a junior, led all wideouts with 30 receptions in 2012. He added 372 yards and three TDs. Andrew Williams was next with 27 catches for 424 yards and three touchdowns. Andre Stubbs provided 27 grabs, 271 yards and two TDs. Michael Wheary will start ahead of Williams after good spring and fall camps. Senior Kevin Watts could also be a playmaker on the outside.
UD - The Flyers didn't have a player with more than 300 yards receiving last year, but they did have eight wideouts with at least 10 catches. Leading the group this year will be 6-2, 170-pound senior Branden Johnson, who led Dayton with 28 catches for 270 yards despite missing the final five games. He made just one touchdown catch, however. In fact, no Flyer had more than two in 2012. Ross Smith, UD's second-leading receiver last year, will be another big target. He made 26 grabs for 279 yards and two touchdowns.
EDGE - YSU
YSU - There are a lot of new faces for up front for YSU. One of the veterans who will bring them along is center Chris Elkins, a first-team All-Missouri Valley Conference selection in 2012. Seniors Fred Herdman and Andrew Sinko along with redshirt freshman Brock Eisenhuth will be making their first career starts today. Senior Kyle Bryant (6-7, 320) is a returning starter at left tackle.
UD -The Flyers also return two starters in senior tackles Tom Corcoran and Ben Estey. Seniors Grant Georgic, center, and Chris Cortopassi, guard, both saw time last year. Redshirt freshman Chris Costa is making his Dayton debut today.
EDGE - YSU
YSU - Defensive end Kyle Sirl is the long returning starter up front. The 6-3, 260-pound senior made three sacks and 6.5 tackles for loss. Starting at the other end is sophomore Terrell Williams, who saw limited time as a true freshman. Sophomore Emmanuel Kromah and junior Octavius Brown will play tackle and nose guard, respectively. Despite a rash of youth, the Penguins will possess plenty of depth.
UD - Senior Pat Dowd was a first-team All-Pioneer Football League performer in 2012, registering 8.5 sacks and 10 tackles for loss. Senior tackle Brandon Dunn is a two-year starter with 9.5 career sacks. Fellow tackle Austen Alber, a sophomore, was a major contributor in 2012 despite not starting. He made 40 tackles, including 3.5 for loss. End Victor Kaczowski also played a back-up role last year, making 20 tackles and one sack.
EDGE - UD
YSU - All three starters return for the Penguins in their 4-3 base defense. Middle linebacker Teven Williams, a sophomore, led YSU with 63 tackles, while weak-side linebacker Travis Williams, a junior was second with 61 stops. Captain Dom Rich, a strong-side linebacker, provides leadership to a group that should be the strength of the defense.
UD -Senior Collin Monnier (6-3, 220) was a first-team all-conference player in 2012, recording 93 tackles, including 12 for loss. He also made two interceptions. Fellow senior Clay Krafft contributed 37 stops, 2.5 tackles for loss and two sacks. Ryan Schwenke, who plays a hybrid defensive position that includes some linebacker and some defensive back, made five tackles for loss - third best on the team - in 2012.
EDGE - YSU
YSU - This appeared to be one of the strong points for the Penguins - and it still could be - but the loss of Dale Peterman will be felt. The senior was suspended indefinitely for an arrest earlier this month. He was also nursing a knee injury during the time he was arrested. Bowling Green transfer DeVon McKoy will start in his place, and returning starter Julius Childs will man the other corner spot. Junior Donald D'Alesio plays strong safety after starting all 11 games a year ago. He was sixth on the team with 38 tackles. No starter was named at free safety as a position battle between Jameel Smith and Jamarious Boatwright is at a standstill. Expect the freshman, Smith, to play after an impressive training camp.
UD - Dayton returns three of four starters in the secondary, including all-league corner Kyle Sebetic, who led the nation with 18 pass breakups in 2012. Corner Howard Savage was second on the team with two picks, and strong safety Matt Bianco was fifth on the team with 46 tackles.
EDGE - UD
YSU - The loss of place-kicker David Brown can't be overlooked (he made 6-of-7 field goals in 2012). Junior Joey Cejudo takes over, and his next kick will be his first. Senior punter Nick Liste, a Niles native, is one of the best in the FCS. The quick and elusive Stubbs is a major threat returning kicks and punts.
UD - The Flyers are throwing out a new punter and place kicker. Gary Hunter is a dangerous kick and punt returner (he returned a punt 77 yards for a TD last year).
EDGE - YSU
YSU usually opens up with either a really good team or a really bad one. Dayton falls somewhere in between. Sure, the Flyers have had winning seasons in 35 of the last 36 years, but most of those were at the Division III level. They're a solid FCS team but not on YSU's level. They do boast a few talented players on defense, but it won't be enough against a Penguin team loaded with offensive firepower.