Youngstown State Aims to "Leave No Doubt" vs South Dakota State

Youngstown State prepares to face the defending national champs and the current number 1 team, South Dakota State on Saturday.

YSU Football head coach at Indiana State
Source: Youngstown State Athletics

Youngstown, OH. — After picking up an important MVFC road victory, YSU has flipped the page and is fully focused on developing a plan to beat the best team in the country, SDSU. Earlier on in the season, YSU played two important MVFC games that were important to fulfill their team motto of “Leave No Doubt.” Obviously, that team motto wasn’t satisfied and the Penguins are still looking for ways to dictate their own destiny and win out. “When we got off that plane from South Dakota and lost on the last play, you know we had to really assess, you know we put ourselves in a hole,” said Doug Phillips in his weekly Tuesday presser. Even though the losses against UNI and USD sting, YSU can turn the tide quickly by defeating SDSU at home in what is the most important game of the regular season for the Penguins. Doug Phillips has prepared his program for a moment like this and he wants his players to seize the opportunity, because golden opportunities similar to this, don’t come very often. “For success, it’s about preparation, you know when your preparation meets opportunities and we’ll have an opportunity this Saturday,” Doug Phillips said in his Tuesday presser. At 6-3 on the year, YSU will without a doubt be hungry for a hard fought victory vs a team that many people believe can walk their way back to the National Championship game. SDSU has proven time and time again that they are built for moments like this, the question is will YSU rise up to the challenge and find a way to pull off something incredible. We’ll certainly know the answer when two tough MVFC teams take the field Saturday at 2:00p.m. Until then, that question will be debated for the next couple of days.

SDSU Offensive Stats

Mark Gronowski has continued to show why he is one of the best quarterbacks on the FCS level. Gronowski has thrown for 1,741 yards, 18 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions up to this point in the season. His completion percentage is 68.5 on 181 pass attempts. SDSU’s leading rusher is Isaiah Davis, who has carried the ball 126 times for 860 yards and 9 touchdowns. Behind Davis, is Amar Johnson, who has carried the rock 85 times for 546 yards and 3 touchdowns. The Janke brothers lead the wide receiver room and continue to wreak havoc on the opposition. Jaxon Janke has 33 receptions for 537 yards and 3 touchdowns on the year. His stud brother, Jadon, has caught the ball 22 times for 324 yards and 5 touchdowns. Upfront, SDSU is extremely strong. Mason McCormick and Garret Greenfield are both All-Americans and potential NFL draft picks. Gus Miller, Evan Beernsten, and Jared O’Brian round out the offensive line room and are extremely talented as well.

SDSU Defensive Stats

Linebacker Jason Freeman leads the defense in total tackles with 60. Isaiah Stalbird and Saiveon Williamson are also impressive in the linebacker room, combining for 97 total tackles. Safety Tucker Large leads the secondary in interceptions with 2 and cornerback Dalys Beanum leads the way in passes defended with 6. Cale Reeder, DyShawn Gales, and Colby Huerter are some other notable players in the secondary for the Jacks. On the defensive line, Cade Terveer leads the team with 5 sacks and he continues to consistently apply pressure on the quarterback. Quinton Hicks along with Jarod DePriest have also been very impressive. Matter of fact, all of the players on SDSU’s defense are talented and each player contributes in one way or another.


All three phases of football will have to show up on Saturday for the Penguins if they are to have any sort of success vs SDSU. The offense needs to continue to put points on the board and find a healthy mix of run and pass plays. The defense has to apply pressure on the quarterback and the secondary cannot afford to get burnt over the top. Stopping the run will also be important for the Penguins, as Davis and Johnson are two of the best tailbacks in the FCS. Special Teams need to be superior and win the field position battle. These are things that have been mentioned all year and to this point, have not been executed. There have been glimpses of how talented this team is when they play complementary football, but it has not been executed for 60+ minutes yet. I think the Penguins are due for a game where all three phases show up and this would be the perfect time for everything to blend together. Another important part of this game that I don’t think is being talked about enough is the energy or who wants it more. YSU, without a doubt, will be hungry for a playoff spot and will fight with everything they have. Mark my words, the team that wants it more will get the result they want on Saturday.


I have the Penguins doing the unthinkable and beating SDSU. I think YSU will come out with an attitude and win a game that will be remembered for a long time. 27-24 YSU wins on a last second field goal.