But he'll have no such luxury on Saturday, when the defending national champion Penguins invade Dix Stadium to battle the Golden Flashes in a game Pees himself says is a pick 'em.
"Talent-wise, we're pretty equal," said Pees, who will make his Dix Stadium coaching debut on Saturday. "We may have an advantage in some areas, but we can't make mistakes and beat them. We'll have to out-perform them to win."
And out-performing the Penguins is no easy task.
Veteran mentor Jim Tressel has led YSU to 86 wins (sixth-most in all of college football) and four national titles this decade, and his Penguins are once again I-AA's top-ranked team in '98.
"They're really an impressive team," said Pees. "They're well-coached and disciplined, and they don't make critical errors. To beat YSU, you have to beat them because they won't beat themselves. That's how they've won so many national championships."
Youngstown State ran roughshod over the Flashes a year ago, piling up 328 yards on the ground while earning an impressive 44-23 victory at Stambaugh Stadium.
Running backs Jake Andreadis (5-foot-8, 185-pound senior) and Adrian Brown (6-0, 210-pound junior), who combined to rush for 211 yards and three touchdowns in last year's rout, return to anchor the offense this season. And junior Andre Cook (5-7, 190), who ran for a team-high 87 yards in YSU's season-opening 50-6 victory over Division II cupcake Clarion, has been added to the mix.
Junior quarterback Jared Zwick (6-0, 205), who appeared in 11 games last year, will move into the starting role he earned during preseason camp after missing last week's opener with a lower back contusion suffered during a preseason scrimmage. While not a proven pure passer, Zwick is extremely athletic and runs the option well.
"They have a strong offensive backfield," said Pees. "They're patient and they stick with the gameplan until eventually they execute it."
Former Kent Roosevelt High School standout Dwyte Smiley (6-2, 200 pounds), a preseason All-American free safety, anchors a YSU defense that's widely considered the team's strength.
"You'll notice (Smiley). He's an excellent talent and he'll make plays," said Pees. "Overall, defensively they just play sound football and do the things they're coached to do."
The pressure will once again be on the Flashes' offensive line _ especially first-year starting tackles Jason Hupp (6-3, 305-pound sophomore) and Dan Goodspeed (6-6, 281-pound junior) _ to protect quarterback Jose Davis, who spent last Saturday running for his life during the season-opening 56-3 loss at No. 15 Georgia.
"Hupp and Goodspeed played better (against Georgia) as the game went on," said Pees. "This week we're pretty even size-wise, so it will be a good test."
Defensively, the Flashes will seek to control the action up front to keep the Penguins' vaunted running attack in check, while the defensive backs and linebackers will need to contain the potentially lethal option.
A tough assignment, for sure. But unlike last week, it's doable.
"We wanted to get everyone involved last week against Georgia, but our focus now is on winning ballgames," said Pees, who played 12 freshmen and 18 new players overall last week. "We'll play people who can make plays because the only experience you'll get against Youngstown State is beaten if you play guys just to play them."
Notes: Youngstown State leads the series 4-3 after last year's victory,
but Kent has won three in a row at Dix Stadium. The teams have split
four games since renewing the rivalry in 1994, with both squads winning
twice at home. The Penguins won in '94 and '97 and went on to win
national championships in both years, but they failed to make the
playoffs after losing to the Flashes in '95 and '96 ... WFMJ-TV 21
(Youngstown) will broadcast the game live beginning with a pregame show
at 5:30 p.m. ... Davis saw his first action as a collegian a year ago
against the Penguins and threw a 58-yard touchdown pass to tight end
Jason Gavadza. He completed 2-of-4 passes overall for 63 yards ... The
winner of Saturday's game will gain possession of the Schwebel Trophy, a
tradition that was first started in 1988.