YSU returns from Christmas break to set mark, prepare for JMU

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – It was back to work for the Youngstown State football team Wednesday morning.

And in their first practice since Christmas break in preparation for the National Championship on Jan. 7 against James Madison (13-1), the Penguins (12-3) actually set a new mark.

It was YSU’s first practice ever after the holiday.

That’s right, Youngstown State has never had a season last this long — as even the four previous National Championships were all won before Christmas.

The Penguins spent two and a half hours practicing inside the WATTS.

Afterwards, here was the big question: How do you enjoy Christmas and your time off when you’ve got a National Championship game to get ready for?

“Well you just balance it up,” Head Coach Bo Pelini said. “You get your work and you get your time. You work hard — and when you get away — you get away. I don’t treat it any different than I did when I went to a bowl game [while coaching Nebraska]. I’ve had experience with it, so you give your players a chance to go home and enjoy their families, then get back to work.”

“It’s always there,” All-American defensive end Derek Rivers said. “So it’s always stuck in the back of your mind. It is relaxing to be home with your family and stuff and not be away for so long to where you completely just get out of football mode.”

“I mean, you think about Christmas — you think about family,” senior offensive lineman Brock Eisenhuth said. “But the whole break, you’re thinking about, ‘I want to watch film, I want to come to practice.’ You know, you can’t wait until January 7th to get back on that field and win the National Championship.”

YSU will square off with James Madison on Jan. 7 at noon in Frisco, Tex.