FARGO - There are roster adjustments. And then there is Youngstown State, which practically did a complete overhaul in Eric Wolford's first year as head coach.

He said last week his team has 50 new players from a year ago.

"That's quite a bit of change and it's a night and day difference from last year," Wolford said.

It wasn't as if the Penguins were not competitive last year. They were.

Five of their eight losses were by six points or less including a 34-29 defeat at home to North Dakota State on a 45-yard touchdown pass with 34 seconds remaining.

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"We've talked about it since last year," Wolford said. "We have to finish better. There were a lot of contributing factors."

To address those factors, Wolford said the Penguins needed to add physical strength to match up with teams in the fourth quarter. Add the fact 32 underclassmen players left the program during his first year making the transformation tougher.

"Our work ethic has completely changed," Wolford said.

The Penguins return seven starters on offense including sophomore quarterback Kurt Hess, who threw for 2,117 yards and 12 touchdowns last season. They have a pre-season first team running back in Jamaine Cook, the second leading rusher in the Missouri Valley Football Conference last year.

YSU also has seven starters back on defense, but Wolford said the unit is not settled heading into fall camp.

"We need some more defensive leadership right now," he said. "This will be a crucial time in answering questions defensively."

Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at

(701) 241-5546.

Kolpack's NDSU media blog can be found

at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia