College Football Preview: The 2015 Ball State Cardinals
Ball State Cardinalss Preview
2014 Record: 5-7
Pete Lembo and the Ball State Cardinals look to make some noise in the MAC after a disappointing 2014.
Overview: The Ball State Cardinals are experienced and talented enough to challenge for the conference crown with improved play under center and a better performance on the defensive side of the football for a team that seemed to be Bowl quality a season ago.
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Offense: Pete Lembo’s first order of business is to decide who is going to play quarterback. Jack Milas or Ozzie Mann who combined for nearly 2,600 yards with each throwing for around 1,300 yards and both looking either great or bad. Jahwan Edwards is gone and takes 1,252 rushing yards with him so Horatio Banks (75-353) and Teddy Williamson become the top two. Nearly everybody that caught a pass return with Jordan Williams and KeVonn Mabon combining for 115 catches and just under 1,500 yards to lead the way. The offensive line gets back all five starters so if experience counts for anything this group is loaded.
Defense: The defensive line gets back four of their top five but the big concern here is the group doesn’t rank high in the size and strength department. DT Darnell Smith and Michael Ayers combined for 11.5 TFL and six sacks but the Cardinals need more from the line as a whole. The linebacking unit gets back their top five with Zack Ryan and Ben Ingle combining for 124 stops but creating negative plays and getting pressure on the quarterback are areas that need improving. The secondary was never set meaning their was steady change from week to week with injuries to go around and the numbers say nobody stood out. The unit should get a boost if FS Dae’Shaun Hurley returns at 100% from his ACL injury and the front seven gets some pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
Special Teams: Kyle Schmidt averaged 42 yards on 52 punts so this area is set but the Cardinals need a replacement for Scott Secor who was 25-29 on field goals so in the best case scenario there will be a drop off. KeVonn Mabon handled 12 kickoffs in 2014 and Aaron Hepp averaged 4.5 yards on eight punt returns so I’m sure Ball State will be looking at everything but punter.
Outlook: If the play under center is solid the offense will be fine but the front seven of the defense is a question mark. The Cardinals have Bowl potential if the defense holds up but challenging in the MAC West is a long shot.