While his defense only gave up six points on the night, Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi made sure to give credit to the YSU staff during his opening statement to the media following the Spartans 28-6 win.
“I can't wait to watch the tape,” said Narduzzi. “Things happen out there fast, I'd like to see how things are going. I think it was an average performance, typical opener. Youngstown, give them credit, I've known [Offensive Coordinator] Shane Montgomery for 10 years now and worked with him. They do a great job on offense, they were averaging 30 points a game last year in their first year as a staff, and I think you'll see those guys win seven, eight, nine games this year. So I think we played a good football team and I think we played okay. They dinged us a little bit, we bent but didn't break and gave up six points.
While the fifth year coordinator is known for wanting his players to be flying to the ball and playing fast, Narduzzi was not sure if they were playing too fast and reckless.
“I don't know, we'll see,” said Narduzzi. “That's all early in the game; tackling just wasn't as crisp as you'd like it. [Youngstown State's Jamaine Cook] is a good tailback, spinning off us and I saw our guys just throwing shoulders instead of just thudding him up. I think we got better as a team as the game went on tackling-wise. But again, it's our first look at a spread offense and since we don't see that from our offense, it's a little harder to get our scout team to do something like that. Overall, I talked to a bunch of the players after the game here and they were saying, 'Coach, we've got to do better against that spread.”
When asked, Narduzzi was slow in giving too much praise to linebacker Max Bullough or any other Spartan defender.
“It's so hard to see out there,” said Narduzzi. “It's so fast, we'll know a lot more tomorrow afternoon or tomorrow morning. I think he (Bullough) played okay. It was his first start; we've got a lot of young guys out there. [Sophomore Tackle] William Gholston’s first start, [Red-shirt Freshman Defensive End] Marcus Rush’s first start, and [Sophomore Defensive End] Denzel Drone hadn't played a lot at some of those positions. We'll see, there's certainly a lot of mistakes out there which we anticipated in the first game. But I think we made some plays today.”
As for how the Spartans defensive line played against the Penguins, Narduzzi knew going in their offense may not provide too many chances to apply pressure to quarterback Kurt Hess.
“When I was in the locker room I had some recruits say 'Man that was some mad pass rush out there today,” said Narduzzi. “I was like, 'Man, I didn't see it.' They're throwing the ball so quick and tossing it and throwing jailbreak screens. It's not a drop back team - they're throwing quick slants and that kind of thing. They threw a couple deep outs, but, hard to tell. I'll tell you afterwards that's for sure.”
With early game struggles many came away feeling the Spartans came out flat. How did Narduzzi see the team?
“I thought the sideline was flat in the first half, but not really,” said Narduzzi. “We had a great Thursday practice and I didn't see them being flat but it's not Notre Dame or Michigan you're playing either - but it really was a good football team.”
On the offensive side of the ball, Spartans offensive coordinator Dan Roushar kept things short during his opening statement.
“I thought at times we did some things pretty well but certainly made a lot of mistakes, things that are very correctable,” said Roushar. “I'm anxious to get in and look at the film and determine exactly what it is we need to work on. I thought we had some individual performances, particularly in BJ [Cunningham], that I thought were outstanding. He had a great night and I thought Kirk delivered the ball pretty well. We started with a win, but I think we've got a lot of work to do.
One of the feel good stories on the night was the unexpected start by offensive lineman Arthur Ray. Roushar spoke about Ray’s appearance and the emotion felt by all.
“Arthur is a tremendous story and I'm so impressed with his perseverance and toughness and all the things he's made up of - and it was very emotional,” said Roushar. “It was emotional for our football team and I was very proud of him, like our entire staff.”
As for how the offense performed on the field, Roushar gave YSU credit and reserved judgement until he had a chance to watch game film.
“I'm anxious to watch the film,” said Roushar. “We've got a long way to go, that's obvious; but credit Youngstown State, they played hard. At times we looked like we could move the football, but at other times we just shot ourselves in the foot. We can't make those mistakes and beat a good football team.