#13 Youngstown State FCS Football 2017 Preview


Youngstown State Penguins


Overall Rank: #13

#3 Missouri Valley

It did not take long for Coach Bo Pelini to turn around Youngstown State. After a debut campaign in which the Penguins went 5-6 in 2015, YSU finished last season with a 12-4 mark. The team went 6-2 in MVFC play, but failed to receive a bye in the playoffs. They knocked off Samford in the first round and followed it up with another convincing win at Jacksonville State. In the quarterfinals, the Penguins survived a 30-23 double overtime thriller against Wofford and they outpaced Eastern Washington in the semifinals. Of course the Penguins could not get the job done against James Madison in the championship game, but that great playoff run will give the program momentum for years to come.
2016 Record: 12-4, 6-2
2016 Postseason: FCS Playoffs
Coach: Bo Pelini (17-10 at Youngstown State, 84-37 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Shane Montgomery
Defensive Coordinator: Carl Pelini
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Tevin McCaster, RB, 638 yards
Passing: Hunter Wells, QB, 1,714 yards
Receiving: Alvin Bailey, WR, 511 yards
Tackles: Armand Dellovade, LB, 105
Sacks: Savon Smith, DT, 5.0
Interceptions: Jalyn Powell, S, 2
Other Key Returnees: WR Ricky Davis, WR Damoun Patterson, OL Justin Spencer, P Mark Schuler
Key Losses: RB Jody Webb, RB Martin Ruiz, WR Darien Townsend, OL Brock Eisenhuth, S LeRoy Alexander, DE Derek Rivers, DE Avery Moss, CB Kenny Bishop, CB David Rivers, S Jameel Smith, CB Eric Thompson
Eight starters return to a unit that ranked third in the MVFC in total offense. At running back though there are some big shoes to fill with 1,000 yard rushers Jody Webb and Martin Ruiz moving on. However, Tevin McCaster, who rushed for 638 yards and 11 touchdowns last season, is ready to pick up the slack. McCaster is a speedy back who can take some contact as well. Quarterback Hunter Wells started nine games last season and threw for 1,714 yards and 11 touchdowns with just five interceptions. The 6-5 senior is now a four-year starter and will rarely make a bad decision. Alvin Bailey returns after catching a team high 47 passes last season. With receiver Damoun Patterson and tight end Kevin Rader, the Penguins should have no problem mixing up their run first offense with some effective passing.
This is where the questions begin. Last year the Penguins led the conference with 3.06 sacks per game. They also ranked second in scoring defense, allowing a mere 19.9 points per game. But defensive ends Avery Moss and Derek Rivers need to be replaced. Those two tallied 26 sacks. Also gone are five players from the secondary who had starting experience, including LeRoy Alexander who picked off four passes. Linebacker Armand Dellovade will be the leader of the defense after tallying 105 tackles. Tackle Savon Smith will anchor the new look line and Donald Mesier is a quality tackle as well, but filling in those spots vacated by Moss and Rivers will have to be a group effort.
The Bottom Line:
If the defense can manage to find a few new playmakers, this will be a very, very good Youngstown State team. Coach Pelini is building depth and now, at least on the defensive side of the ball, it is time to see if that depth will start to pay off. If it does, the Penguins have a shot at winning the Missouri Valley Football Conference. That is because both North Dakota State and South Dakota State head to Ohio this season. There are still some tough road games, most notably at South Dakota and Northern Iowa, but the schedule is relatively kind. However, those big four games are the first four games of the conference season and the Penguins could find themselves playing catch up by the time November rolls around.
Projected Postseason: FCS Playoffs
2016 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 242.7 (10th in nation, 1st in conference)
Passing Offense: 180.2 (90, 9)
Total Offense: 422.9 (24, 3)
Scoring Offense: 27.6 (51, 7)
Rushing Defense: 128.9 (26, 4)
Pass Defense: 191.1 (31, 2)
Total Defense: 319.9 (14, 3)
Scoring Defense: 19.9 (12, 2)
Turnover Margin: -0.13 (67, 7)
Sacks: 3.06 (10, 1)
Sacks Allowed: 1.81 (52, 5)
HERO Sports 2017 Recruit Rankings:
#54 Antoine Cook
#132 Braxton Chapman