YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – After four weeks of summer practice, the Youngstown State University football team will finally get to hit someone not wearing a Penguins jersey.

YSU will kickoff the 2022 season this Saturday against Duquesne.

Watch the video above to hear from head coach Doug Phillips and players about this weekend’s home opener.

“I think this year is just going to be a culmination of the past three years,” says YSU senior lineman Mike McAllister. “We’ve had some rough two seasons in the past, but this year is that year where you see the growth from those two seasons and just getting on the field and showing that we can play good football in this conference.”

“I think we’ve made huge growth, and we needed to,” said Coach Phillips. “We weren’t very good defensively. We haven’t earned anybody’s respect on the field. So for us, I think we need to take huge jumps defensively and stopping the run and scoring defense. Offensively, yeah, we could run the ball last year, but could we pass the football? So for us to be able to go on the field and get an evaluation against our opponent, that’s what I want to see.”

“Coach has been mentioning to us how much we need to improve, and I think we will,” says YSU senior defensive end James Jackson. “I think a lot of people will be surprised at the way we play up front and just as a defense as a whole, how violent we will be and how much effort we’ll play with.”

The Penguins will host Duquesne this Saturday at Stambaugh Stadium. Kickoff is slated for 2 p.m.