We will be taking a look at the YSU preview against Michigan State in a moment. First, we want to take a quick look back at week one.
Recapping Week One’s 44-41 OT win against Incarnate Word
After a thrilling overtime victory in Thursday’s home opener against Incarnate Word, the Youngstown State football team is riding on momentum. The offense has improved a lot from what the Spring saw as new starting quarterback Demeatric Crenshaw shined in the spotlight scoring two touchdowns on the ground and one in the air to Kentucky Transfer Bryce Oliver.
Not only was Crenshaw the new hot shot in town, but Jaleel McLaughlin kept on improving from his standout spring season where he rushed for 242 yards on 29 carries and two touchdowns, becoming the Missouri Valley Football Conference Co-Offensive player of the week.
While the offense was far more improved from what was seen in the Spring, the defensive side had its shares of ups and downs as the Penguins were fooled by the Cardinals short pass attempts on the defensive side, but improved especially in the fourth quarter with the pressure from Vinny Gentile who sacked UIW’s quarterback Cam Ward.
Other big defensive players who made an impact and to watch for during week two against Michigan State are James Jackson (six total tackles), Grant Dixon (six tackles) De’Marco Augustin (seven tackles), Jordan White (seven tackles) and Zaire Jones. If the Penguins clean up some messes, look for them to possibly give Michigan State a hard game.
Interesting Facts After The Game
A few key facts about the performance Thursday against Incarnate Word. It was the first time the Penguins won on a field goal in more than two decades. The last one was 1998 in a 18-15 win against New Haven. Surprisingly, it’s not YSU legend and former Eagles NFL kicker Paul McFadden, but rather Colten’s older brother Connor McFadden who kicked in their overtime victory back in 2016 against Wofford. That 2016 team was the one that made it to the FCS title against James Madison.
Last time YSU Played Michigan State
Looking at the Penguins game this week against the Spartans, a few keynotes stand out. One of the keynotes is that this is the first time since 2014 when YSU traveled to Memorial Stadium, nearly beating Illinois 28-17. The last time they played Michigan State, was the year prior in 2013, losing to the Spartans 55-17.
Some talented names that played for both teams were YSU All-Time passing leader Kurt Hess who went 11-27 for 121 yards and a touchdown. Martin Ruiz who rushed for 36 yards and a touchdown as well 57 yard on the receiving end and a touchdown added to that. Plus, kicker Joey Cejudo for the Penguins would get the first points on the board for Youngstown State with a 34-yard field goal. Cejudo would try out for a few NFL teams after he graduated and now works with kickers for different camps. The team’s head coach was now Kentucky Offensive line coach Eric Wolford. On Michigan State’s side, they had their star quarterback in Connor Cook who threw for over 200 yards and four touchdowns in the game and former YSU Defensive Coordinator Mark Dantonio was the head coach for the Spartans.
In that 2013 game for the Spartans, they got their first rushing touchdown from now NFL Free Agent Jermey Langford that went three yards out and then four touchdowns in a row from Cook to Kevin Muma, Bennie Fowler and Trevon Pemdieton. Going back to the ground game, Langford had 68 yards on 15 carries and two touchdowns. His teammate Nick Hill had only nine carries but rushed for 83 yards and a touchdown in the process.
Before the 2013 game
The two teams also met back in 2011 with that game being much closer as the Spartans only beat YSU by the final of 28-6. Now Baltimore Raven practice squad member and former Pittsburgh Steelers superstar Le’Veon Bell played in the game rushing for two touchdowns on 40 yards. Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins was another one of those future NFL players in that game passing for over 200 yards and a touchdown.
Michigan State Now
A lot has changed since 2013 as the Spartans are led by second year head coach Mel Tucker who after a disappointing COVID seven game shortened season in 2020, is looking to go back to the Connor Cook days instead of finishing three and five. Looks like coach Tucker is heading in the right direction with these players as they are coming off of a Friday BIG 10 conference 38-21 win against the Northwestern Wildcats.
Quarterback Payton Throne went 15 for 25 with 185 yards and a touchdown. But, just like how Michigan State needs to stop McLaughlin, the Penguins defense needs to lock down talented junior running back Kenneth Walker III who rushed for 264 yards on 23 attempts and four touchdowns.
Defensively, the Spartans have a pretty tough defense dramatically improved from the 2020 season. Some of these players include Xaiver Henderson the senior strong safety who led the team in tackles with nine against Northwestern. Others to watch out for against the Penguins offense are free safety Angelo Grose who had five solo tackles (nine total), cornerback Kalon Gervin with eight, Simeon Barrow, Jacob Penasiuk and Drew Beesley.
Kickoff is at noon with the game available on Big Ten Network or can be listened to on 570WKBN as both teams look to go 2 and 0 to start off the 2021 season.