HERO Sports welcomes you to "Two-a-Days", where we will preview every single one of the 125 FCS programs, with two being released each day from June 18 to August 18 (with the final day having three in one day). Today we give you … Youngstown State.
YOUNGSTOWN STATE (6-5 IN 2017)
MVFC (YSU was 7th in 2017)
COACH: Bo Pelini – 4th year (23-15 record)
2017 OFFENSE: 29.7 ppg. (36th in FCS)
2017 DEFENSE: 19.1 ppg. (20th in FCS)
SUM IT UP: The resurrection of YSU football appeared to happen in 2016. Out of the national picture and the playoffs for too long, the Penguins ended the drought with a 12-4 record and a trip to the national title game. Expectations were huge in 2017. YSU is back, most thought. The season slowly started to unravel, though, with a 2-4 record and the four losses coming within a touchdown or less to FBS or ranked FCS teams. The dagger was a 35-0 loss to Illinois State on YSU's own Homecoming weekend, essentially ending playoff hopes with five losses. This makes for an interesting discussion on where to project the Penguins in 2018.
The team is loaded with talent all across the board. But the one position that could determine YSU's success is at quarterback. Nathan Mays, who started five games last year but got banged up, is dealing with injuries again during preseason camp. The job appears to belong to Notre Dame transfer Montgomery VanGorder, who took very little snaps for the Irish. He'll be helped by a big and talented offensive line and a run game led by preseason All-American Tevin McCaster. The top three pass catchers are gone, though. Under Pelini's watchful eye, the defense is always going to be solid. There has been a lot of talent lost, either to graduation or injury, but Armand Dellovade is another preseason All-American to lead this group.
BEST-CASE SCENARIO: The Penguins finish second in the MVFC, earn a playoff seed and make another deep run. They are too talented of a team to miss the playoffs for the second year in a row. It's likely YSU heads into conference play 2-1. The key month is going to be November, which hasn't treated the Penguins kindly in recent years. The slate of games is at NDSU, against UNI and at Illinois State. Each of those teams will have a winning record and in the hunt for a playoff spot.
TOP RETURNEE: RB Tevin McCaster (Preseason All-American)
THE NEXT BEST: LB Armand Dellovade (top returning tackler, 76 total); OL Vitas Hrynkiewicz (Preseason All-Conference First Team); OL Gavin Wiggins (Preseason All-Conference First Team); DB Bryce Gibson (MVFC All-Newcomer Team); RB Christian Turner (440 yards rushing, 1 TD, 2 receiving TDs)
TOP NEWCOMER: QB Montgomery VanGorder (Notre Dame transfer battling for starting spot)
DID YOU KNOW?: YSU won four FCS/Division I-AA national titles from 1991 to 1997 under head coach Jim Tressel.
THE QUOTE: “The guy who starts is the one who’s most efficient over time over the next couple of weeks. [He] is the guy who takes control and not just win a football game for you, but more importantly, don’t lose a football game for you.” — Head Coach Bo Pelini told The Vindicator on the QB battle
SOCIAL MEDIA SPOTLIGHT
THE HASHTAG: #GoGuins
FOOTBALL TWITTER: @YoungstownStFB