By: Chris Mcbride
After a devastating loss in overtime against the University of Pittsburgh (1-0), the Youngstown State University football team (0-1) looks to regroup at home this Saturday against Robert Morris University (1-0).
In last week’s game, Pitt got off to a hot start scoring on its first three drives of the game to go up 21-0 in the first half. Down but not defeated, YSU came out swinging in the second half managing to tie the game at 21 in the fourth quarter.
Cornerback Avery Larkin spoke about what went wrong in the game.
“We made a lot of mental mistakes, missed assignments, common mistakes in the first game going in,” Larkin said. “Going into this week, we’ll be looking to get better at those, fixing those mental mistakes, playing faster and harder.”
Despite the loss, Larkin looks to the brighter side, calling the game a “good momentum builder” for the rest of the season.
YSU has won 21 straight home openers dating back to 1996. Speaking about the home opener, tight end Shane Kuhn expressed his excitement.
“We had a pretty good season last year at home so I hope to continue that streak and keep it going,” Kuhn said. “It’s been really cool around here lately. The whole campus has been coming together and I think we’re gonna have a pretty good showing. It helps out when the stands are full when you come out; you get more excited for the game.”
Moving on from the Pitt game, Kuhn looks to RMU in preparation for this week’s game.
“Defensively, they’re a pretty tough team to play against, prepare against, so we have to be reeled out this week. Two years ago, we weren’t prepared for them and it showed that we weren’t,” Kuhn said, referring to the 2015 game against RMU where the Penguins narrowly pulled off the victory in a close contest.
Kuhn also stated that he believed the team was more prepared to face RMU in last year’s game in which he hopes to replicate this Saturday.
In their 2016 matchup against RMU, Youngstown state won 38-6 in a blowout game. Defense was key in that game as the Penguins’ defense was able to hold RMU to -13 rushing yards.
The Penguins’ D recorded seven sacks for a loss of -66 yards while only giving up 103 total yards.
While the game didn’t have the results head coach Bo Pelini and the Penguins would have wanted, the team showed promising signs from the likes of freshmen, such as running back Christian Turner, that coach Pelini praised during the press conference.
“It took about three days at camp for us to realize he was a stud. We’re glad to have him and our backfield in general is really deep. We have a lot of talented guys but Christian is gonna be a very good player,” Kuhn said.
Turner managed to catch two huge touchdown passes from Hunter Wells for 124 yards on the game.
“That’s what I dreamed about, this is just me living out my dreams, all the goals I’ve set,” Turner said. “I had hoped to come in and make an immediate impact like I did last Saturday so this is just everything that I hoped to do.”
Coming into the next game, Turner considers himself “humbled” as he looks to replicate his play this week against RMU. Turner also expressed his feelings on playing at Stambaugh Stadium for the first time.
“I’m excited,” Turner said. “First time playing another team on Stambaugh so I mean we’ve been practicing all camp on the stadium and field. It’s gonna be fun actually getting to play a game out there.”
Last year against RMU, YSU ran for 303 yards on 49 attempts with three touchdowns.
“We know what type team we can be, the potential we have, we just have to come out … We can’t slack off at practice. We got to come out full-speed every practice and take every rep like it’s a game rep,” Turner said.
Last week, RMU came back from a 10-point deficit to defeat the University of Dayton.
“There’s a lot of little things that need to get fixed to me. Success always lies in the details and I thought our detail was better in the second half,” Pelini said. “Not quite always what you want it to be but in the end, I thought we progressed as the game went on. If we keep getting better that way, if we keep working at it and fixing our mistakes while obviously honing in on our fundamentals and technique, we’ll be okay.”
YSU will kickoff at 2:00 p.m. against RMU on Sept. 9 at Stambaugh Stadium.