YOUNGSTOWN - There were plenty of upsets in college football this weekend, and Eric Wolford saw them all.
The Youngstown State University football coach watched as conference-foes North Dakota State and Northern Iowa beat Football Bowl Subdivision schools Kansas State and Iowa State. Then he popped in film of his own team against Dayton, a non-scholarship school who has never made the postseason since joining the Football Championship Subdivision in 1993.
It wasn't pretty, but he walked away from the TV still believing the Penguins are ready to compete with anyone in the Missouri Valley Football Conference. They just need to start making improvements right away - like Saturday at 4 p.m. when they host Morehead State.
"We still have some things we need to work on," he said. "When you look at the conference and what it did this past week, you really have to focus on getting better every week, and that's one of our fundamentals for success. We need to improve on some things. We were really disappointed at some things we did on offense last week that can't happen."
The main problem was the play of quarterback Kurt Hess, who completed 9 of 19 passes for 73 yards and two interceptions. Wolford didn't blame the receivers for running poor routes or offensive linemen for allowing pressure. Neither were much of a factor, he said. It was the basics that hurt Hess.
"It was probably more fundamentals than anything," Wolford said. "Footwork, not getting his shoulder aligned with where he was throwing - simple things like that. He might have been pressing a little bit, but those are all correctable things."
That was the only silver lining for Wolford and the Penguins: Their mistakes won't require drastic changes, just minor tweaks.
The defense will require fewer adjustments as it allowed just 270 total yards and 10 total points despite being put in some tough situations. Senior defensive end Kyle Sirl will be one Penguin with plenty of motivation this week. His close high school friend, Kalvin Harrington, plays guard for Morehead State, so there's a good chance the two could go face-to-face on Saturday. Sirl said the two used to talk about what it would be like to square off against each other in college, and they continue to speak on a regular basis nowadays.
"He was one of my really good buddies in high school," Sirl said. "When we both decided to go play for our respective teams, we would say, 'Man, it would be so sweet to play each other.' Now that day's here. I'm excited to play him. We've been talking a little trash. I know he's kidding and he knows I'm kidding, but I'm coming after him."
Morehead will be out to prove last week's 13-10 loss to Pikeville (Ky.), an NAIA-affiliated school, was a fluke.
PETERMAN REINSTATED: Senior cornerback Dale Peterman was reinstated to the football team on Saturday, Wolford said.
Peterman was originally suspended after being charged with possession of marijuana, speeding, driving under suspension and failing to wear a seat belt. The marijuana and driving charges were dismissed in Warren Municipal Court on Aug. 28 after a state trooper confirmed for a judge that it was the older brother of Peterman who was passing himself off as Dale.
Wolford said Peterman, a returning starter at corner, probably won't participate until conference play because of a knee injury suffered in training camp. YSU's first MVFC opponent is Sept. 28 at Southern Illinois.
"We're not going to rush it," he said. "I don't want to put him back out there and get re-injured and miss four or five conference games."