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Recap & Youngstown State

Before I look at YSU for this week, I want to give a small recap on Jack’s game and some general observations.

I called the SDSU game a flip of the coin and it (for a Bison fan) landed on the wrong side. In my preview I said we needed to tap the breaks on Cam, not that he isn’t a good QB, but because of inexperience. A redshirt freshman starting his fifth game lost to a grad transfer with both FBS and FCS experience. You have to agree the two TO’s (INT & fumble by Cam) are a big factor in what proved to be the difference in the game (7 direct points), plus very sloppy with 75 yards in penalties.

I am not jumping ship on the strength of the Bison program and in particular, the development of NFL quality QB’s. What I am pointing out is NO TEAM in the FCS was hurt more by Covid than the Bison. In a normal universe, Trey would be into the ninth game of his redshirt Jr. year. Just imagine the numbers he would be putting up with all the weapons at his disposal?

Last fall we got one game out of the third and 53rd players drafted by the NFL. Our total development of the QB room has been significantly disrupted. Not because the program is bad, but because it was too good. No other QB has been taken after their freshman year in the draft, including the FBS.

Where would JMU or E Wash be without out their SIXTH YEAR QB’S? Do you hear the sound of that toilet whirring? I don’t think either would have made the playoffs.

I am not here to cry in my beer about what happened with Covid, but to give an honest perspective and evaluation of the Bison program. In my writing I always endeavor to stay consistent. Last week I stated that when you hit two thirds of the season’s games having been played, you know what the other team is. When using that measuring stick in looking at the Bison offense, it isn’t very hopeful.

We are limping into the playoffs, not galloping or picking up a head of steam. We have major question marks entering the final two games and the playoffs on offense. In short we aren’t looking/performing like a championship team (we scored 24 vs Albany, 16 at UND, 20 at ISU, 27 vs Mo. State & 19 against the Jacks). Averaging 21.2 PPG would rank 84th in FCS (this is what Towson scores). So much water is under the bridge, this looks like this will be this Bison offensive team’s final epitaph, lots of promise, but short on performance.

How about this week’s 1-0 opportunity? If we don’t score more than 40 versus YSU, we are in trouble down the stretch and heading into the playoffs. This has trap game written all over it. Ask UND or Mo. State if the Penguins can be taken lightly? Jaleel McLaughlin, YSU’s pint sized running back, is 8th in the nation in rushing (902 yards in 8 games for 112.8 YPG). As a team YSU is 12th in the FCS in rushing offense at 218.8 YPG. When they fall behind in lopsided games, the Penguins aren’t a good passing team. Michigan State jumped ahead early and nursed a 42-14 victory. UNI shut down YSU’s run game, but more importantly amassed a 31-0 lead by half time. South Dakota State rode a 31-3 3rd QTR lead to an easy road victory 47-16.

When other teams allow them to get into a shootout the games are nail biters. They beat Incarnate Word (a playoff team) 44-41, lost to WIU 35-38 (Western took E wash to the limit in a 63-56 loss), beat Mo. State (most likely a playoff team) 41-33 and UND had to score 14 4th QTR points to squeak by 24-21 at home.

Why am I putting the onus on the offense? YSU is very bad on defense. They rank 118/123 in total defense by giving up 462.6 YPG, are 106th in run defense (189.1 YPG), 113th in passing D (273.4 YPG) and 107th in scoring D (35.9 PPG).

If we can’t scheme to put up 40+ on these guys, it will be a bad playoff season. The committee, if we win out, will conspire to put JMU or Montana State ahead of us so we don’t get at home all the way thru. Also they will put any of these MVFC teams in our bracket: Mo. State, SIU, UNI or the Jacks. If we roll out our 21.2 PPG offense, we most likely will be going home early.

Yes, the 2011 and 2012 teams weren’t offensive juggernauts and won close games by stalwart defense, but we were kind of still sneaking up on the FCS world. We don’t have that luxury anymore; we are target Number 1 in the FCS. We look more like 2014 where three of our playoff victories were by Wentz heroics, last second 27-24 win versus the Jacks, a 39-32 win over Coastal and the thrilling come from behind 29-27 victory with IL State in Frisco.

In summary, if the offense doesn’t pick up the pace, the rest of the games are too close to call. The offensive coaching staff needs to show more creativity in overcoming stunting defenses. I am calling all the offensive room groups to dig deep into their Bison Pride. To date you are putting out a substandard Bison product. Go Bison!!

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