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YSU Scouting Report: Week 4

Correspondent photo / Robert Hayes Youngstown State sophomore Chris Fitzgerald (left) tackles MSU's Jordon Simmons Saturday afternoon.

YOUNGSTOWN — After a week off to lick their wounds from a 42-14 defeat at Michigan State, the Youngstown State Penguins now focus their attention to their league slate in the Missouri Valley Football Conference.

YSU’s MVFC schedule begins with Western Illinois, who enters at 0-3. In their spring matchup, the Penguins led WIU by as much as 11 in the second half before the Leathernecks scored the game’s final 14 points for a 27-24 victory. When facing WIU at home, YSU is 12-4.

This season, Western Illinois features a quick-strike offense that can rack up yards through the air. WIU is coming off a performance in which it scored 56 points, but still fell to No. 7 Eastern Washington, 62-56. Thus far, the Leathernecks have faced two FCS Top 10 teams — now No. 6 EWU and No. 4 Montana.

QUARTERBACKS

YSU — Demeatric Crenshaw will make his third career start for YSU. Thus far, he’s shown a knack for running the ball, amassing 150 yards and three touchdowns on 38 carries. When he does throw, Crenshaw has completed 19 of 35 passes for 193 yards, touchdown and has been picked off once.

WIU — Connor Sampson is 82-for-120 this season, and has accumulated 903 yards and six touchdowns. He’s averaged 301 yards per game so far, and has thrown three interceptions. The senior was a preseason All-MVFC Honorable Mention.

EDGE — Western Illinois

RUNNING BACKS

YSU — The Penguins continue to keep their run-first identity, and that starts with tailbacks Jaleel McLaughlin and Christian Turner. McLaughlin has 276 yards and two touchdowns this year on 42 carries, while Turner has notched 76 yards and a score on 17 rushes. Both backs are capable of factoring into the YSU pass game, as well.

WIU — The Leathernecks are a pass-first team, but when they do hit the ground, Myles Wanza and Ludovick Choquette tend to get the carries. Wanza has 107 yards this season, while Choquette has 41 and two touchdowns.

EDGE — Youngstown State

WIDE RECEIVERS

YSU — Youngstown State prefers to pound the rock, but the Penguins do have playmakers in the air game. TIght end Andrew Ogletree has four receptions for 41 yards, which leads the receiving/tight end corps.

WIU — Dennis Houston leads a potent air attack with 28 receptions for 455 yards and four touchdowns. He’s had 10-plus grabs in two of the Leathernecks’ three matchups so far. Dallas Daniels and Tony Tate each have 12 grabs this year to round that unit out.

EDGE — Western Illinois

OFFENSIVE LINE

YSU — The Penguins have given up five sacks on 44 total attempts. The encouraging stat is that YSU is averaging 259 rushing yards per contest this season, a mark it should surpass this weekend.

WIU — The Leatherneck front has given up 10 sacks to start the year, and the run game averages just 95 yards per game and 3.5 yards per attempt. William Waddell was a preseason MVFC Honorable Mention.

EDGE — Youngstown State

DEFENSIVE LINE

YSU — James Jackson has eight tackles this year, while Hunter Allen and Vinny Gentile each have a pair of TFLs. YSU has only one sack this year, which Gentile recorded in overtime against Incarnate Word in Week 1. The opportunities should be there this week for that figure to increase.

WIU — Hunter Mason has WIU’s only sack this season, and has nine tackles and a TFL to his name, too. WIU’s front has given up 221 rushing yards per game this season, which should play into YSU’s hands.

EDGE — Youngstown State

LINEBACKERS

YSU — Grant Dixon is up to 13 tackles this year, while Griffin Hoak has four tackles. The duo will figure more into the pass defense this week, as Western Illinois passes more often than it runs.

WIU — Dallas Martin has 15 tackles for WIU, while Jalen Powe has 12 and 0.5 TFLs. Herschel Blankenship, Martin’s backup, also has 12 tackels for a defense that’s given up 45 points per game through three contests.

EDGE — Youngstown State

SECONDARY

YSU — A point of strength for YSU last season, the defensive backfield has had a tough start to 2021, thanks in large part to who it’s faced. The Penguins have given up 337.5 yards per game in the air, the second-most in the FCS, and they face another tough task this week as WIU enters with the No. 13 pass offense in the FCS. The Leathernecks average 315.7 passing yards per game.

Safety Jordan White leads YSU with 16 tackles, while D’Marco Augustin has 15 plus a TFL.

WIU — Similar to YSU, Western Illinois has faced some stiff competition in terms of passing attacks, namely Eastern Washington’s. EWU owns the No. 2 passing attack in the FCS, behind Presbyterian.

WIU has given up 337.3 yards per game, slotting them just one spot ahead of YSU in the FCS pass defense rankings.

Michael Lawson has a pair of interceptions for WIU this season, and has added 1.5 TFLs, a fumble recovery and three forced fumbles.

EDGE — Youngstown State

SPECIALISTS

YSU — Sam St. Surin can flash speed in the kick return game, and brought a kick out to midfield in the Penguins’ opener.

Meanwhile, placekicker Colt McFadden is 3-for-3 to start the year, with a long of 41 yards. All three of those field goals came against Incarnate Word. McFadden has five touchbacks on kickoffs.

Punter Paddy Lynch is averaging 41.8 yards per boot, and has one punt of 50+ yards. Nick DeSalvo has punted five times this year for an average of 40.4 yards, including a 52-yarder.

WIU — The Leathernecks have yet to attempt a field goal this season, though Mason Laramie is 12-for-12 on PATs. Laramie has three touchbacks on 14 kickoffs, and has booted one out of bounds.

Punter Adam Fellner averages 41.38 yards per kick, and has a 57-yarder to his name. He also has pinned opponents inside the 20 six times.

Tony Tate has only returned two punts this year for an average of 3 yards per return. On kickoffs, he nets about 18.43 yards per return.

EDGE — Youngstown State

PREDICTION

A season ago, the Penguins let a double-digit lead slip in the second half. Call that a lesson learned.

YSU should be able to move the ball well against Western Illinois, and with its ground-first approach, should be able to maintain possessions and keep WIU off the field long enough to hang on for a win.

Youngstown State wins, 31-27.

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