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YSU Scouting Report: Week 2

EAST LANSING, Mich. — After an exciting overtime win over Incarnate Word at home in Week 1, Youngstown State hits the road for its first contest away from Youngstown this season, a trip to Michigan State.

The Spartans hail from the FBS’ Big Ten Conference and are fresh off a 38-21 win at Northwestern. It will mark the first time since YSU’s trip to West Virginia in 2018 that the Penguins have faced a Power 5 opponent.

Michigan State is like YSU in a couple regards. The Spartans are under a second-year coach (Mel Tucker) and are in the process of a rebuild.

If last week was any indication, however, that process may be ahead of schedule in East Lansing.

That said, the task isn’t impossible for YSU, and head coach Doug Phillips said this week he doesn’t want his players feeling they have to do “the extraordinary” to pull an upset.

Still, this is going to be an uphill battle for the Penguins.

QUARTERBACKS

YSU — Demeatric Crenshaw was named the starter ahead of YSU’s game against MSU, and in his first career start, completed 9-of-12 passes for 112 yards and a touchdown. He added 81 yards rushing on 20 carries and perhaps most importantly, didn’t turn the ball over.

Crenshaw looked comfortable in his debut, and said he did a nice job of allowing the game to come to him instead of forcing things.

MSU — After winning a battle for the starting position during fall camp, Payton Thorne also performed well in his debut. The redshirt sophomore completed 15 of 25 attempts for 185 yards and a touchdown, and added 39 yards rushing on five carries. YSU defensive back Keyon Martin said Tuesday the Penguins are wary about his willingness and ability to tuck the ball and pick up yardage with his feet as situations dictate.

EDGE — Michigan State

RUNNING BACKS

YSU — No surprise here, Jaleel McLaughlin was the star of the offense in YSU’s season opener. The shifty tailback racked up 242 yards and two touchdowns on just 29 carries, and added a 45-yard reception on YSU’s penultimate play in regulation that set up Colt McFadden’s game-tying field goal to force overtime.

MSU — Perhaps the only collegiate tailback who had a more impressive Week 1 than McLaughlin was Kenneth Walker III, a transfer from Wake Forest who gashed Northwestern for 264 yards and four touchdowns on 23 rushes.

EDGE — Michigan State

WIDE RECEIVERS

YSU — YSU’s receivers generally performed well when called upon, but they were limited in action because of the Penguins’ run-first approach. Bryce Oliver, a Kentucky transfer, caught two passes for 15 yards and a touchdown, while tight end Andrew Ogletree caught two passes for 28 yards.

MSU — Jayden Reed was Thorne’s top target last week, hauling in five receptions for 64 yards. Tre Mosley chipped in four grabs for 59 yards. MSU completed passes to five different players in its win.

Michigan State likely won’t look to throw nearly as much as Incarnate Word did at Stambaugh Stadium a week ago, but the Spartans are deep and talented at the position.

EDGE — Michigan State

OFFENSIVE LINE

YSU — Crenshaw was sacked on three of his attempts last week, and was pressured on a few more. However, McLaughlin’s performance was an encouraging start for YSU’s front.

MSU — In addition to paving the way for Walker to run wild, the Spartan front gave up just two sacks to Northwestern, and Thorne was hurried on just three of his passes.

EDGE — Michigan State

DEFENSIVE LINE

YSU — The YSU defensive line came up with big plays at critical moments, including a TFL by Hunter Allen on a UIW 4th-and-1 and an overtime sack by Vinny Gentile. Still, YSU did give up 143 yards rushing and 5.1 yards per attempt to the pass-first Cardinals. Defensive end James Jackson had six tackles and a fumble recovery.

MSU — Northwestern mustered 117 yards on 38 rushes, an average of about 3 yards per attempt. Wildcat QB Hunter Johnson threw 43 times and was sacked on four of those and hurried on three others, though some of that pressure came from MSU’s safeties and DBs.

EDGE — Michigan State

LINEBACKERS

YSU — Perhaps a product of UIW’s air raid scheme, two of YSU’s top three tacklers actually were in the secondary. Still, Grant Dixon posted six tackles and a pass breakup, while Griffin Hoak made a pair of stops. Given Walker’s performance last week, the YSU linebacking corps figures to have a heavier workload this week.

MSU — Quavaris Crouch and Cal Haladay combined for 13 tackles, and Crouch added a TFL and a sack. That duo figures to stay busy chasing down McLaughlin.

EDGE — Michigan State

SECONDARY

YSU — Youngstown State likely won’t face a passing attack like UIW’s the rest of this year, but Week 1 was tough for the Penguin defensive backfield. Cam Ward went 28-for-47 for 352 yards and four scores on the YSU pass defense. Four different Cardinals had at least four receptions and 70 yards.

D’Marco Augustin and Jordan White had seven tackles a piece, and Augustin forced a fumble in YSU’s win.

MSU — Safeties Xavier Henderson and Angelo Gross each recorded nine tackles, and Henderson tacked on two TFLs and a sack. Northwestern’s Hunter Allen did complete 30 of 43 passes for 283 yards and three touchdowns, but YSU’s run-first scheme won’t produce nearly that many attempts.

EDGE — Michigan State

SPECIALISTS

YSU — Colt McFadden drilled a pair of clutch field goals, one from 40 yards to force overtime and the other from 27 to win the game. Elsewhere, Sam St. Surin had a big kickoff return to midfield during the first quarter.

The Penguins did have one special teams gaffe, as London Pearson muffed a kickoff before returning it out to the 5 yard-line.

MSU — Matt Coghlin went 1-for-2 on field goals last week, though his miss was on a 60-yard attempt that the Spartans probably shouldn’t have taken in the first place. He recorded four touchbacks on seven kickoffs, while punter Bryce Baringer had four attempts for an average of 47.25 yards, including a 57-yarder.

EDGE — Youngstown State

PREDICTION

Given the run-first styles of each team, Youngstown State should be able to hang around for a while and keep things interesting, particularly if McLaughlin can spring a couple big runs like last week.

However, Michigan State is too explosive and too deep, and I don’t think lightning will strike in East Lansing like it did in Pittsburgh in 2012. Expect the Spartans to start pulling away in the second half of this one.

Michigan State wins, 38-17

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