The Missouri State Football team takes a newly-found explosive offense and a stellar second-half defense to Youngstown State University on Saturday.

Here are a few things to look for in Saturday’s matchup. 

More Chunk Plays

Head coach Bobby Petrino and offensive coordinator Nick Petrino have been dialing up big offensive games for the Bears over the last three weeks, and that probably won’t change this week.

The MSU offense has been on a tear and put up an efficient and effective performance in a 41-20 win over Illinois State.

Senior quarterback Jason Shelley completed 70% of his passes for 319 yards and two touchdowns while also averaging 16.8 yards per completion.

Senior running back Tobias Little was the Missouri Valley Football Conference Offensive Player of the Week, with a line of 90 yards rushing and three touchdowns on 6.4 yards per carry.

A much- improved MSU offense consistently found big gains on the ground and through the air against YSU last season. 

“I think that cushion that they give us now, instead of playing us as tight as possible, affects how open you are and your ability to make yards after the catch,” Petrino said in media availability on Monday. 

Consistent Rushing Attack

YSU is a team, like many in the MVFC, that relies heavily on its rushing attack.

The dash and smash duo of senior running back Jaleel McLaughlin and redshirt freshman quarterback Demeatric Crenshaw carry the load for the Penguin offense. 

McLaughlin is the more explosive and elusive runner who consistently makes people miss.

So far this season, the duo is rushing for 181 yards per game and 4.9 yards per carry to go along with 10 rushing touchdowns.

“The first thing they have is that great running back (McLaughlin.) He’s truly a threat,” Petrino said. “He was the number one concern playing them in the spring. He does a lot of things. He’s so quick, he’s hard to tackle, he makes you miss and he’s got a great change of direction.”

Flipping The Script

Over the last two weeks, MSU has made critical halftime adjustments to pull away in the second half of games.

The defense has gotten off to a rough start the last two weeks. Addressing the issues at halftime has allowed the Bears to not surrender a single point in the second half of their last two games.

“Our coaches have a good plan at halftime and make good adjustments,” junior linebacker Ferrin Manuleleua said. “No matter what part of the game we’re at, good or bad, our team is really confident that we’ll pick it up and do the right thing.”

Shutting down opposing offenses does wonders on every side of the ball. It gives the defense confidence and it gives the offense more possessions to put up more points.

Don’t expect MSU to be in a close game at halftime, just expect a dominant second half on both sides of the ball.

Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 9. You can watch the game on ESPN+, or you can listen to the game on the Bears Radio Network. 

Follow TJ Scott on Twitter, @iamtjs_

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