Ball State Cardinals 2016 College Football Preview, Schedule, Prediction, Depth Chart, Outlook
2015 Record 3-9
Ball State Cardinals 2016 Preview
The Ball State Cardinals look to new head coach Mike Neu to bring consistency to the football program.
Overview: With Pete Lembo heading to Maryland, former Ball State alum Mike Neu takes over on the sidelines with a resume that includes stints with the New Orleans Saints, Tulane and ten years with four different arena football clubs. Will this experience translate to success for the erratic Cardinals program that was 3-9 and outscored 36-23?
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Offense: Neu has to get points from the Ball State offense and it seems sophomore Riley Neal will be under center following a freshman campaign that saw him throw for 2,276 yards on 58% with 16 TD’s and six picks although he was all over the map at times. KeVonn Mabon (70-745) and Corey Lacanaria (45-374) are the top returning receivers with Jordan Williams taking over 900 yards to graduation. The backfield has experience with Darrian Green totaling 730 rushing yards with a five yard average with James Gilbert (152-608) giving the Cardinals a mere four yards per touch but Neal gave the team some mobility under center with 466 yards and a nice six yard average. The O-Line returns one starter but the Cardinals are really lacking depth which will be felt if the injury bug bites.
Defense: The Cardinals scared nobody defensively and have brought in Tim Daoust (Syracuse) in to shore up this side of the ball and will likely implement a more attacking style. If experience counts for anything the defensive line has the pieces available with five of the top six back with DE Joshua Posley recording nine TFL and 2.5 sacks while DT Darnell Smith had four sack in 2014 after missing last season. Sean Wiggins gives Ball State over 70 tackles , 4.5 TFL, two sacks and a pair of INT’s at linebacker which brings us to a loaded secondary that gets back their top eight players. While the Cardinals have plenty of experience in this area this group needs the front seven to generate pressure because opponents hit passes at over 70% which won’t win games.
Special Teams: Punter Kyle Schmidt averaged 39.7 yards on 58 boots and Morgan Hagee hit 16-21 field goals but was just 2-6 on FG of 40+ yards. Darian Green and KeVonn Mabon were solid kick returners and Corey Lacanaria averaged 10.5 yards on punt returns but Ball State needs better efforts from their coverage units.
Outlook: The Cardinals have the experience and schedule that would appear to have another win or two built in but a new head coach makes things a bit murky. I will say 5-6 wins are doable and anything more would be a pleasant surprise but Neu could be the next big thing or just another face.
9/2 @ Georgia State
9/10 @ Indiana
9/17 Eastern Kentucky
9/24 @ Florida Atlantic
10/1 Northern Illinois
10/8 @ Central Michigan
10/15 @ Buffalo
11/1 Western Michigan
11/8 Eastern Michigan
11/16 @ Toledo
11/22 @ Miami (OH)