By Nathanael Haethorne
The Youngstown State University football team heads to South Dakota on Saturday to try to pick up a win after a 56- 17 loss last week. There are key players that will be left on the sidelines, however.
Senior quarterback Nathan Mays suffered a season- and career-ending injury after breaking and dislocating his ankle Nov. 2 North Dakota State University. His presence on the offense will surely be missed as he was one of the team’s top performers.
“I’m done [playing football] forever,” Mays said on his injury during a postgame press conference Nov. 2.
Before the injury, Mays threw for over 1,200 yards and had a 61.1% pass completion rate, 13 touchdown passes and four interceptions through nine games.
Backup quarterback Joe Craycraft took over before getting sidelined with an injury of his own against North Dakota state. According to Penguins coach Bo Pelini, Craycraft is ready to go for the game this week.
After a loss as hefty as the North Dakota game, Pelini said he believes the team has the right attitude heading into Saturday’s
“I think the team’s taking the right attitude,” Pelini said.
“They understand the things that have to be corrected and how we’ve got to get better. … I expect our guys will respond come Saturday. I have no question about that.”
Pelini said after the game Nov. 2 he was embarrassed at the defense’s performance. The team gave up over 440 total yards. He said he believes that shaking things up may work in favor of YSU.
“We’re looking at some personnel changes,” Pelini said. “We’re looking to turn over every stone as far as just trying to get better and to give ourselves the best opportunity to win football games. [In] some cases, it’s personnel; in some cases it’s playing better, more accountable, more disciplined, being in the right places and tackling better.”
Mental mistakes and errors have been a thorn in the side of YSU’s defense and offense as well. According to Pelini, there were too many missed assignments, and careless errors also had a strong impact. But, the past is in the past and there is only one direction to go: forward.
“We can’t look back,” Pelini said. “You got to look ahead and you can’t panic in this situation. Just stay the course. … That’s how you approach it.”
Looking ahead to the Nov. 9 game, the Penguins hold a 6-1 record against the University of South Dakota. The Penguins picked up a win last year at home against the Coyotes.
Kickoff is slated for 3 p.m. in South Dakota.