#34 Youngstown State FCS Football 2014 Preview

Youngstown State Penguins

Overall Rank: #34
#6 Missouri Valley

Youngstown State Team Page#34 Youngstown State FCS Football 2014 PreviewBuy Youngstown State Football Tickets

Overall Youngstown State had a good 2013 campaign, but it ended without a trip to the playoffs. The Penguins were sitting at 8-1 to start the year, with their lone loss coming against Michigan State and looked poised to grab a playoff spot. But their MVFC slate was back heavy and their last three games were against Northern Iowa, North Dakota State and South Dakota State. Youngstown State likely just needed to win one of those games to make the playoffs. They lost all three.

2013 Record: 8-4, 5-3
2013 Postseason: None
Coach: Eric Wolford (24-21 at Youngstown State, 24-21 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Shane Montgomery
Defensive Coordinator: Jamie Bryant

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Martin Ruiz, RB, 1,094 yards
Passing: Dante Nania, QB, 180 yards
Receiving: Andrew Williams, WR, 395 yards
Tackles: Donald D’Alesio, S, 70
Sacks: Emmanuel Kromah, DL, 4.0
Interceptions: David Rivers, CB, 2

Other Key Returnees: RB Jody Webb, WR Andre Stubbs, WR Marcel Caver, WR Christian Bryan, K Joey Cejudo, CB Julius Childs, S Jameel Smith, DE Terrell Williams

Key Losses: QB Kurt Hess, LB Tevin Williams, LB Ali Cheaib, DL Kyle Sirl, CB Dale Peterman, DL Vince Coleman, OL Chris Elkins, P Nick Liste

Youngstown State will have a very potent offense, now led by running back Martin Ruiz. As a freshman last season, Ruiz rushed for 1,094 yards and 15 touchdowns. He ended up third in the voting for the Jerry Rice Award, which honors the top freshman in the nation. With a decent offensive line in front of him and a year of experience under his belt, Ruiz is ready to take over the offense. The Penguins will be breaking in a new quarterback, and more on that later, but whoever is under center will have some experienced receivers to work with. Youngstown State loves to spread the ball around and all three receivers who had over 300 receiving yards are back in the mix. Christian Bryan, Marcel Caver, Andre Stubbs and Andrew Williams will make life easier for any quarterback. Add tight end Nate Adams into the fold and the Penguins have plenty of talented pass catchers.

Somebody has to get those guys the ball though. Kurt Hess has been a starter for the last four years and as a senior he threw for 2,229 yards and 22 touchdowns. Junior Dante Nania looked decent during his limited action last season. He threw for 180 yards on 20 pass attempts. Some of those did come in important situations while Hess was banged up, so it is not like everything Nania did came during mop-up time. Sophomore Tanner Garry took a few snaps as a sophomore, throwing one touchdown and one interception in ten pass attempts. Those two could continue to fight it out well into the season. The offense should be in good shape under coordinator Shane Montgomery though. It will just look very different without Hess. The defense was one of the worst in the MVFC in 2013 and there are some big holes to fill, especially at linebacker. Donald D’Alesio is a proven safety and Julius Childs is developing into a very good corner, but the team did rank 101st in the FCS in pass defense. If players like lineman Emmanuel Kromah cannot get consistent pressure in the backfield, the talent in the secondary will almost go to waste.

The Bottom Line:
The Youngstown State schedule is a little bit better this time around. There is not a brutal stretch to end the season and Northern Iowa is nowhere to be found. Trips to South Dakota State and North Dakota State will not likely end in revenge for last season, but each of the seven home games are very winnable. If Youngstown State can hold serve at home and steal a road win away from Missouri State or Illinois State, they will make the playoffs. However, that is asking a bit too much from this group.

Projected Postseason: None

2013 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 195.4 (32nd in nation, 2nd in conference)
Passing Offense: 204.8 (66, 3)
Total Offense: 400.2 (49, 2)
Scoring Offense: 33.8 (24, 2)
Rushing Defense: 162.9 (57, 8)
Pass Defense: 247.2 (101, 10)
Total Defense: 410.1 (81, 10)
Scoring Defense: 26.2 (56, 8)
Turnover Margin: 0.3 (33, 5)
Sacks: 1.83 (72, 9)
Sacks Allowed: 1.33 (26, 3)

Madness 2014 FCS Football Recruit Rankings:
#152 Jaylon Brown


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