By Marc Weems
With Youngstown State University making the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs, they look to advance to, and eventually win, a championship.
YSU’s 65-20 win over Missouri State University solidified their spot in the FCS playoffs. Now, they must face a team they haven’t played since 1991.
Samford University will travel to YSU for the first time since the Penguins’ first national championship run. YSU head coach Bo Pelini said Samford plays a similar style as some of the Missouri Valley Football Conference teams the Penguins have played in the regular season.
“They play in a spread offense. They really try to spread the ball,” YSU head coach Bo Pelini said. “Defensively,
they use a typical four-man front with multiple coverage schemes.”
Samford boasts some good offensive numbers. Samford’s offense has amassed 35 passing touchdowns and 13 rushing touchdowns. Their offense averages 450 yards per game while averaging 36.1 points per game.
“After watching a lot of film on them [Samford], they really like to pass the ball and they have a really good offense” YSU linebacker Armand Dellavade said. “Their quarterback can also run the ball a little. He [Delvin Hodges] has a few really good wide receivers.”
With the defense always playing well, the season numbers were pretty great for YSU.
YSU’s defense has allowed just 16.5 points per game this season while giving up just 294.5 yards per game. YSU’s defense only gives up 108.3 yards per game rushing which was second only to North Dakota State University who gave up 105.2 yards per game rushing.
On the other side, YSU’s offense has improved in the last month or so.
Overall, YSU’s offense averaged 25.5 points per game while gaining 418.5 yards per game. 260.5 yards out of those yards from the rushing game.
Samford’s defense gives up 419.7 yards overall while opponents scored 26.3 points per game. Their defense also gave up 204.4 yards per game on the ground.
“Obviously they are a good team, they have some good wins and some close games that they have lost,” YSU tight end Shane Kuhn said. “They have a good defense especially their one defensive end. They are just really good overall.”
Samford will look to score early and often. The Bulldogs have outscored opponents at a rate of 227-145 in the first half. Samford has also outscored their opponents in every quarter this year in total.
At first having a different kicker like Connor McFadden instead of Zak Kennedy or Nate Needham could be hard but Schuler said that all those things are adjustments that have worked themselves out over time.
“As a team, we feed of the atmosphere,” Schuler said. “As specialists, not so much because we have to stay focused on our jobs. If you do one thing wrong, if you get taken away by the moment, than [we] can completely change your task at hand.”
YSU hosts Samford in the First Round of the FCS Playoffs at 5:00 p.m. on Saturday at Stambaugh Stadium.