YSU - Senior quarterback Kurt Hess had a game to forget in the Penguins' 28-10 victory over Dayton in Week 1. He completed 9 of 19 passes for 73 yards, two interceptions and zero touchdowns. The numbers were a bit shocking for a player on pace to break nearly every significant passing record at YSU. The former first-team Missouri Valley Conference QB has a habit of being inconsistent, but he should be able to get back on track against Morehead State.
MSU - Redshirt freshman Logan Johnson completed 33 of 53 passes for 271 yards with two interceptions and zero touchdowns. That came against Pikeville (Ky.), an NAIA school. He'll have a tougher time against a YSU?defense that's far more talented. He has the ability to scramble, which will help his cause, but he'll need to stay out of second- and third-and-long situations to have any success against the Penguins.
EDGE - YSU
YSU - Senior Adaris Bellamy looked a lot like the back people expected him to be for the last three years in the win over Dayton. He ran for a career-high 203 yards (including a critical 80-yard jaunt in the fourth quarter) and one touchdown on 17 carries. With regular starter Demond Hymes still hampered by an ankle injury, Bellamy will likely start again, despite senior Torrian Pace being higher on the depth chart. Bellamy's ability to run inside and outside make him a more logical choice. Pace had a good day against the Flyers as well, 49 yards and two TDs on 11 carries.
MSU - Junior Rees Macshara became Morehead State's first 1,000-yard rusher since 2000 when he ran for 1,023 yards and six TDs last year, earning first-team All-Pioneer Football League honors. He only accounted for 51 yards and zero touchdowns on the ground last week, however. Johnson showed some versatility against Pikeville (Ky.) by leading the Eagles in rushing with 57 yards rushing on 10 carries.
EDGE - YSU
YSU - An injury to Christian Bryan early in the first half of the Dayton game was a big loss for YSU. The junior possesses some of the best hands on the team, and his availability will be important for the passing game to get going again (YSU coach Eric?Wolford said he expects him to play). A group with loads of talent was disappointing against Dayton, but some of that had to do with Hess' tough day. Sophomore Andre Stubbs led the receivers with two catches for 13 yards. Bryan was cracked in the ribs, leading to his injury, on his one catch of 23 yards (which was enough to lead the team in receiving yardage).
MSU - The Eagles are dealing with the loss of the program's all time leading receiver in Donte Sawyer. Sawyer pulled in 199 catches for 2,555 yards and 24 scores (all career records). That leaves Macshara as MSU's leading returner at receiver with 39 grabs for 307 yards and a TD in 2012. Slot receivers Cyrus Strahm (eight receptions, 76 yards) and Jake Raymond (seven, 52 yards) led the Eagles last week. Kitaro Lewis (6-4, 205) is a big target on the outside.
EDGE - YSU
YSU - An area that's welcoming in three new starters had a good start to the season, paving the way for 367 yards rushing. An NFL scout was on hand to watch a few players, most likely all-conference center Chris Elkins, and monstrous left tackle Kyle Bryant (6-7, 320 pounds). The group as a whole could use a little improvement in pass blocking as Hess was under duress at times against Dayton.
MSU - Three starters return up front for MSU, including senior Kalvin Harrington, an Honorable Mention All-PFL choice last year. The 6-2, 280-pound Harrington is good friends with YSU?defensive end Kyle Sirl. Both went to Cloverleaf High?School in Ohio and will most likely square off in the trenches for the first time at some point on Saturday. Also back is mammoth right tackle Alex Hey, who stands 6-8, 290 pounds.
EDGE - YSU
YSU - The line played a big role in constantly pressuring Dayton quarterback Will Bardo last week. The only problem was they allowed the elusive signal-caller to break outside containment and extend plays, leading to big gains on passing plays down the field. Expect a more disciplined line this week, led by Sirl, who will be trying show up his long-time friend and lead a young core of defenders.
MSU - The Eagles recorded five sacks in their 13-10 loss to Pikeville (Ky.). Senior end Aaron Meadows, who led MSU with six sacks last year and was named second-team all-PFL, made one last week, while left end Ronald Cooper added 1.5 and a tackle for loss. Tackle Ronald Lewis added a sack as well. All three started in 2012, forming a group the Eagles consider a major strength of a defense that returned 10 starters.
EDGE - YSU
YSU - The linebackers were rather impressive against Dayton. Teven Williams led the Penguins in tackles with eight, while Dom Rich and Travis Williams tied for second with six stops. They also helped pressure the quarterback. Reserve linebacker Ali Cheaib made the play of the game when he leaped up and snatched an interception early in the fourth quarter. Don't expect a dropoff against a weaker opponent.
MSU - Junior captain Jordan Hendrix, a middle linebacker, is one of the leaders of the defense after leading the Eagles in tackles (123) last year. He was a second-team all-PFL?honoree in 2012. Weak-side linebacker Nick McCune played in 10 games last year and made 41 stops. Reserve linebacker Ryan Bennett led the corps in tackles in Week 1 with seven.
EDGE - YSU
YSU - The Penguins did allow 195 passing yards against the Flyers, but most of them came when Bardo was able to extend plays and find receivers who broke off from their original routes. That's still no excuse for giving up so many yards, including Dayton's only TD. Senior corner Dale Peterman, one of the team's best defensive players, was reinstated to the team after a preseason suspension, but he won't play for a few weeks as he recovers from a knee injury. His replacement, DeVon McKoy, and the rest of a somewhat inexperienced secondary, should be improved after a week of working together.
MSU - Another veteran group makes up the secondary. Junior strong safety Michael Jackson is a versatile player who made seven tackles against Pikeville, including a sack. He was third on the Eagles with 57 tackles in 2012. Corners Justin Grier and Trey Watkins each played in all 11 games last year and recorded one interception. Freshman free safety Dominic Iorio led the team in tackles with eight last week.
EDGE - YSU
YSU - Punter Nick Liste had one of the best games of his career with punts of 62 and 64 yards. However, the unit as a whole had its flaws as the Penguins fumbled two punts (one was recovered by Dayton).
MSU - The Eagles lost their all-time best field goal kicker, Rainer Duzan, who established MSU career marks for points (258), field goals (36), field-goal attempts (53) and extra points (150). Taking over is junior Luke Boyd, who made 1 of 3 field goals in Week 1. He made a 21-yarder but missed from 42 and 28 yards.
EDGE - YSU
The "EDGE" goes to YSU?at every position, and the Penguins, a team with playoff aspirations, should be considerably more talented than Morehead State. That said, if YSU plays as sloppy as it did against Dayton, anything is possible.