YOUNGSTOWN — There is no doubt Youngstown State’s season reached a disappointing conclusion when the Penguins have been neglected of the FCS postseason.
However make no mistake — the 2022 marketing campaign was a a lot, a lot wanted step ahead for this system underneath Doug Phillips.
After successful a mixed 4 video games within the 2021 seasons — the spring COVID-19 season after which the common Fall 2021 season — the Penguins went 7-4 after getting off to a 2-3 begin.
With that end, YSU has to really feel it has optimistic power in this system coming into one other vital offseason.
Listed below are some main takeaways from this 12 months’s marketing campaign:
Switching to Davidson
Let’s start with probably the most apparent factors. Any midseason change at quarterback is a bet, however Phillips and Co. acquired this one proper.
The offense was one-dimensional by 4 video games, due largely to the inaccuracy of former starter Demeatric Crenshaw. Davidson, nonetheless, accomplished 119 of 201 passes (59 %) and was in a position to stretch the sphere with deep passes to Bryce Oliver and the opposite receivers. He racked up 1,613 yards and 12 touchdowns.
He additionally received 5 of his seven begins, and YSU averaged 31.4 factors per sport throughout that stretch.
However maybe the largest impression his rise to the beginning spot supplied was taking strain off All-American tailback Jaleel McLaughlin. With defenses compelled to respect YSU’s passing sport, McLaughlin’s numbers noticed a slight uptick. By way of the primary 4 video games, McLaughlin averaged 129.5 yards per sport. Within the remaining seven, that jumped to simply over 185 yards per sport, and that stretch included three performances of 200-plus yards.
Davidson now enters a vital offseason by which he’ll look to take additional steps ahead because the signal-caller, however with a full offseason, he could also be poised for even brighter days forward.
The protection improved
The Penguins’ protection was a vibrant spot this season after a poor 2021 displaying. Credit score to first-year defensive coordinator Jahmal Brown there.
YSU completed with the No. 4 scoring protection within the Missouri Valley at 25.4 factors per sport and the No. 5 whole protection at 354.1 yards per sport.
For comparability’s sake, the Penguins have been tenth of 11 Valley groups in 2021 in scoring protection at 34.3 factors per sport and final in whole protection at 455.8 yards per sport.
Maybe probably the most noticeable soar was in YSU’s capacity to pressure adverse performs. The Penguins completed twenty fifth within the FCS in TFLs, and have been fourth within the Valley in sacks.
The run protection was particularly stout, rating third within the Valley at simply 120.2 yards per sport.
Most of that credit score belongs to the defensive position, which took an incredible step ahead from 2021.
Then, too, the YSU protection had moments the place it stored the crew in video games till the offense may muster late rallies. Take a look at Illinois State and Southern Illinois as prime examples.
YSU will miss McLaughlin
That is stating the apparent, however there will not be a tailback of McLaughlin’s caliber at YSU for a very long time, if ever.
Dubbed “The Eraser” for his capacity to run by errors teammates made, McLaughlin’s breakaway velocity made him a house run risk on any given play.
Merely put, I do not suppose it should be attainable to actually exchange a tailback of McLaughlin’s caliber, and it is doubtless the Penguins will fill that manufacturing by committee transferring ahead. On the very least, will probably be powerful to seek out somebody with the elusiveness and velocity McLaughlin featured.
All of that’s to say: Davidson’s progress at quarterback shall be pivotal, as a result of in some methods, YSU might want to reinvent itself, or a minimum of modify to life with out an All-American at operating again.
Recruiting will begin to present
It is now been three seasons underneath Phillips, and we’re coming into a stretch now the place his workers’s recruiting and participant improvement — issues Phillips touts as YSU’s identification as a program — will actually come to the floor.
That was already beginning to come true this season, as YSU’s improved depth paid dividends down the stretch when key starters like Griffin Hoak and Latrell Fordham missed video games to damage.
Now, we’ll see if these younger depth gamers that ascend the depth chart have been developed totally, and if the YSU workers has recruited effectively sufficient to maintain the depth rolling.