Last year was a disappointing season for the Youngstown State Penguins. Two years ago, the they made it to the FCS Championship, where they would be runners-up losing to the James Madison Dukes 28-14. Since then, the Penguins have finished 6-5 and 4-7 the last two seasons. Though the last two seasons were not good, that does not mean 2019 will be the same. In fact, the 2019 team looks better than the previous two years. Here is Youngstown State Football 2019 Preview for the offense. Let’s start with the quarterback situation for the Penguins.
Youngstown State Football 2019 Preview: The Offense
Last season, the Youngstown State Penguins offense saw different starters in Montgomery VanGorder and Nathan Mays. Youngstown State would finish 69th in passing in the country which may have been disappointing, but 2019 should be different with the quarterback situation. Mays is entering his fifth season at YSU and did not play the spring game due to injury. As of now, he has seven touchdowns in his time at YSU. Other quarterbacks can be in consideration, however. Joe Craycraft is a redshirt freshman out of Marion Pleasant. He has a bit of experience playing against Valparaiso last season. Craycraft has 84 passes for 1,448 yards and 18 touchdowns and led the team in rushing with 98 carries for 922 yards and 12 touchdowns at Marion.
The new freshman in town is local quarterback Mark Waid who led his Girard Indians to the Division Four state championship. Waid finished fourth in Ohio high school history with 11,658 yards passing for his career, trailing only Maty Mauk (Kenton), Ben Mauk (Kenton) and Parker Carmichael (Wooster Triway) in career passing yardage. Waid also rushed for 4,024 yards and 66 touchdowns as an Indian. If Mays isn’t ready to go for week one, Waid can possibly be the next option and lead the Guins back to the winning ways.
Tevin McCaster has graduated from Youngstown State, which means its time to find a new running back. McCaster during his time at YSU rushed for 2,970 yards and scored 36 touchdowns. The back who will replace him is junior Christian Turner and Joe Alessi. Turner has three receiving touchdowns and one touchdown on the ground rushing for 619 yards on 122 carries with one rushing touchdown and three receiving touchdowns, while Alessi has rushed for 552 yards on 43 carries and scored seven touchdowns.
With them now being in the backfield, look for Turner and Alessi to turn up the jets and do what McCaster did during his time. Which is rushing for big yardage every single play and score a lot of touchdowns in the process. The Penguins finished 48th in FCS rushing with 1,967 yards, and look to sneak into the top 10 in 2019.
The Penguins receiver core is back as well. Returner Jake Coats is back for his Junior season. Last year, Coats had 25 punt returns for 74 yards and seven kick returns for 106 yards. However, Coats has yet to score in his career as a Penguin and is looking for his first touchdown this season. He might get some time as a receiver as well.
Kendric Mallory will enter his senior season and his second with the Penguins. Mallory had 12 receptions for 169 yards and two touchdowns in 2018. Kendric has looked strong however and wants to have a breakout senior season.
Jeremiah Braswell will enter his senior season too. Last year, Braswell had 325 yards on 20 receptions and two touchdowns. Sophomore Natavious Payne only had one touchdown last season, but still had 172 yards with 18 receptions. Look for the Penguins to have a great receiving core this season, with most of them returning from last season.
The Penguins only lost one tight end after the 2018 season in senior Chris Durkin and still have a lot of players returning. Kierre Hawkins was only a sophomore last season. The transfer from Ohio State only had one reception for 15 yards, but is hoping for a bigger role in 2019 as last season, he would tear his ACL. Look for Hawkins to have a big comeback season. Others include Miles Joiner who had 12 receptions for 202 yards and four touchdowns, Jake Benio who did not play last season but will get some playing time in 2019, and Josh Burgett who only played a few snaps last season, but wants more.
The offensive line is stacked this season. Brandon Finamore is back for his senior season along with Devon Robinson, junior Henry Yoboue, Norman Fox, and center Todd Brothers, plus others who will be rotating in between each play. Some of them will replace Gavin Wiggins and Charles Baldwin who graduated from Youngstown State.
Part two previewing the 2019 Youngstown State football season will focus on the defensive and special teams side of the ball. We will see how the offense does during the 2019 season. There was a struggle on both sides that will have to be fixed this upcoming FCS college football season.