After falling 56-14 in its season opener a year ago to FCS scholarship program Illinois State, the University of Dayton football team will start the 2013 season against a FCS scholarship program. Dayton, a non-scholarship program, goes on the road to face No. 24 Youngstown State at 7:30 tonight at Stambaugh Stadium.
Dayton coach Rick Chamberlin said his team has learned from last year and won’t be intimidated by the athletic abilities of a scholarship program.
“I would say that our team is prepared for it this year with the idea of the size and the speed of those full scholarship programs,” he said. “I would say also it’s a little bit different going to this year with the way we finished up the 2012 season on a roll with some momentum, some confidence. Going into this first game, our players are confident with how they’re playing.”
UD is 9-0 all-time against Youngstown State. The Flyers last win came in 1977 in Youngstown. Chamberlin played linebacker that day for the Flyers, even intercepting a pass in the winning effort.
“We played well and I had an interception in the game there, so that’s why I remember it so well,” Chamberlin said. “But things have changed. They’ve elevated their program. National championships. Division I facilities. And we have those things here, but when it comes back to scholarships, it’s size and speed. That’s the difference.”
Youngstown State finished 7-5 last season, but did knock off Pittsburgh, a FBS team, in its season opener.
The Penguins are led by four-year starter and three-year captain Kurt Hess, a Chaminade Julienne product. Hess threw for 2,112 yards last season, completing 63 percent of his passes for 15 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
Chamberlin said UD didn’t recruit Hess much because the staff always felt he would play for a scholarship program.
The Flyers will have to rely on senior quarterback Will Bardo, who won the starting job after battling with sophomore Luke Johnson for much of the offseason. This will be Bardo’s third season as a starter.
Bardo will be without one of his favorite targets in senior wide receiver Branden Johnson, who will be suspended for tonight’s game for a violation of team rules, Chamberlin said. Redshirt Freshman Cory Stuart will start in place of Johnson.
Dayton at Youngstown State, 7 p.m., 95.7, 1290