Call me picky. Call me critical. Call me whatever you want. But after watching the Youngstown State University Penguins against Duquesne on Saturday, there are a few things that need to be fixed before opening conference play next week at Southern Illinois.
Yes, it was a 59-17 blowout. But the score does not indicate the errors and miscues the Penguins had against the Dukes.
First, there were the penalties - many of them "stupid" ones that need corrected immediately.
The most noticeable penalty of the day was a YSU illegal block in the back that negated an Andre Stubbs 37-yard touchdown. While YSU coach Eric Wolford didn't think the penalty was warranted (he said he'd have to look at the film on that one), it was in fact called and against a better team, that touchdown could have affected the outcome of the day.
Then there were the penalties Wolford knew his team committed that he admitted need cleaned up for next week. There was a roughing the passer penalty that gave Duquesne 15 yards more to an already 27-yard play, an illegal block in the back on a punt return that all but eliminated a Stubbs' 27-yard return and a few holding penalties that just become annoying to coaches and players.
Last week against Michigan State, the Penguins had two penalties on a punt. They had an illegal formation and a 15-yard personal foul - on the same punt play.
Silly penalties in blowout games don't mean much. But if those penalties keep creeping up in Missouri Valley Conference games - when every game usually comes down to the wire - those faults can be the difference in a game.
Then there is the secondary, which gave up 371 yards to the Dukes.
Now, this critique comes with some notes. Starting cornerback Julius Childs was out with an injury after the Michigan State game and Dale Peterman, who plays the other corner, was playing his first game of the 2013 season.
However, the Dukes were obviously a one-trick pony as they only had 39 yards rushing. Redshirt freshman quarterback Dillon Buechel is the real deal and made some fantastic passes to some athletic receivers. During the loss, he connected with seven different receivers. Two of those - Gianni Carter and Chris King - caught for 134 yards and 101 yards, respectively.
When trying to run, the Dukes were getting nowhere, so it wasn't like YSU needed to stack the box to stop the run to only get burned by the pass. And yes it's one game. However, this can't turn into years past when the secondary has been the downfall of the defense. There are too many good quarterbacks in the conference (paging North Dakota State's Brock Jensen and UNI's Sawyer Kollmorgen) who can see a game like this and start salivating at the chance to throw against the Penguins.
It's hard to judge YSU on its first three games. The three wins were expected as was the loss. We will learn a lot about the Penguins on Saturday when they begin MVC play against the Salukis.
However, it is for sure that if the Penguins don't clean up the easy stuff - the road to the playoffs will be bumpier than they would like it to be.