College Football Preview: The 2014 Ball State Cardinals
The Ball State Cardinals have enough talent back to be a force in the MAC once again.
2014 College Football Preview
Pete Lembo and the Ball State Cardinals have their sights set on a trip to the MAC championship in 2014.
Overview: Ball State came up a game short of the conference title game a year ago and on paper have the talent to challenge again if they can find a quarterback and the defense stays healthy AND controls the scoreboard.
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Offense: The big question is how do the Cardinals replace Keith Wenning at quarterback and I say they don't. Wenning threw for 4,148 yards with 35 touchdowns and seven picks on 64% so coming close to this production will not happen. Backup Ozzie Mann threw nine passes in 2013 with Kyle Kamman holding for PAT's and field goals while Jack Milas was a red shirt freshman so Lembo has to find the best candidate. Jordan Williams (72-1050) becomes the #1 receiver with Willie Snead taking 1,516 yards with him to the NFL while KeVonn Mabon is an inviting target when healthy. The running game is in great hands with Jahwan Edwards and Horactio Banks totaling 1,110 yards and 595 yards a year ago. The O-Line loses All MAC 1st team Jordan Hansel and LT Matthew Page but the top returners all have starting experience.
Defense: The defense did give too many big plays and didn't stand out overall and needs overall improvement. That makes us take a wait and see approach on the defensive line with Nathan Ollie and Jonathan Newsome gone and taking 21 TFL with them. DE Nick Miles is the one proven commodity back so this might be a unit where DC Kevin Kelly plugs in the pieces in order to find the best combination. The linebacking crew should be in good shape with Ben Ingle and Zack Ryan bringing back over 146 tackles while five others have game experience. Second leading tackler SS Brian Jones leads a deep secondary that gets ten of the top 12 back.
Special Teams: Kyle Schmidt averaged nearly 41 yards per punt and Scott Secor was 19-24 on field goals so the kicking duties are in good hands. The Cardinals lose Jamill Smith who was a solid kick and PR and if a competent return man is found this is an above average group.
Outlook: The bar is set high for Ball State and they will win their share of games with a not too difficult schedule. I would say another Bowl is likely but I'm concerned about the quarterback situation and can't see this team winning the conference championship unless another Keith Wenning emerges...