Youngstown State looks to control high-powered Mountaineer attack

LOOKING FOR AN UPSET — Youngstown State tight end and Steubenville graduate Charles Reeves reaches for the ball in YSU’s opener Saturday. This week the Penguins face WVU in Morgantown. (Ron Firth)

MORGANTOWN — It took the University of Tennessee only three series to figure out that the only way to keep No. 14 West Virginia’s offense out of the end zone was to control the football.

And, now you can bet that every team remaining on the Mountaineers’ schedule will attempt to mock what the Volunteers accomplished in their 40-14 loss on Saturday.

“What went from being a very close football game … basically with a little bit lack of execution, and execution on their part …. Gets out of hand just like that,” first-year UT head coach Jeremy Pruitt explained. “That’s what happens when you have a team that’s very well coached, he’s got a good trigger man (redshirt senior quarterback Will Grier), knows how to protect, and knows what he’s doing with the football. He does a great job. You can try to disguise and muddy the looks all you want, the guy’s got a lot of experience and he’s got some really good receivers on the other side that made some plays.”

But, it was the beginning of the second quarter that will have future opponents of the Old Gold and Blue glued to their seats.

“Offensively for us in the first half we really shot ourselves in the foot,” continued Pruitt. “Those guys did a really good job mixing up the looks. Way too many negative plays …. we got behind the down and distance. We put a good drive together, 17 plays at one point, got us back in the football game and we did some good things as the game went. There’s a lot of positives, but the most important thing is who wins and loses the game. We didn’t win (Saturday), and West Virginia did, and they deserved to win.”

Yes, the Mountaineers won. But, you can bet, this Saturday’s opponent — Youngstown State — will be looking to accomplish what the Vols did on that long scoring drive.

But more than once.

The Penguins come to Morgantown for the third time (WVU is 2-0 in the series) off an upset loss to Butler, 23-21.

However, Bo Pelini’s squad also comes to Milan Puskar Stadium with a solid running attack led by Tevin McCaster, who rushed for 166 yards in the opener, and a veteran quarterback in Montgomery VanGorder.

VanGorder completed 18 of 27 attempts for 234 yards and a trio of touchdowns while not throwing a pick or suffering a sack.

A task that may be too hard to duplicate against a Mountaineer prevent unit which surrendered only 301 total yards and 14 points against Tennessee.

“Obviously, we will have our work cut out for us against them,” Pelini said. “Defensively, they are very multiple, and they have playmakers at every level. Offensively, they have what may very well turn out to be the best quarterback in the country in Will Grier. You can have everything schemed perfectly and he will find a way to get the ball to one of his receivers and they are all outstanding.

“We will have a plan when we go in there on Saturday. If we execute our plan, then we can possibly keep things interesting. But, if they turn things into a track meet we aren’t built for that kind of game and things could get ugly early.”

The Penguins were able to accomplish that feat two years ago before eventually wearing down in a 38-21 setback.

Fans in attendance will be treated to a look at the 1988 football team which will be honored for its 30-year anniversary.

The game will be televised on AT&T sports.

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