#104 Ball State Football Preview

Ball State

Overall Rank # 104
Conference Rank # 10

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2010 Record: 4-8
2010 Bowl: none
Head Coach: Pete Lembo (First year at Ball State, 0-0 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Rich Skrosky
Defensive Coordinator: Jay Bateman

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: David Brown, RB, 348 yards
Passing: Keith Wenning, QB, 1373 yards
Receiving: Jack Tomlinson, WR, 484 yards
Tackles: Travis Freeman, LB, 103
Sacks: Sean Baker, S, 1; Travis Freeman, LB, 1; Nathan Ollie, DT, 1; Andrew Puthoff, DE, 1  
Interceptions: Sean Baker, S, 6

Other Key Returnees: QB Kelly Page, LB Tony Martin, WR Briggs Orsbon, WR Otis Brown

Key Losses: DE Robert Eddins, RB MiQuale Lewis, K Ian McGarvey, RB Eric Williams

Ball State, after a disappointing 4-8 season, brought in a new head coach in Pete Lembo. Mr. Lembo also hired new coordinators; Rich Skrosky (offense), and Jay Bateman (defense). Coach Lembo boasts a 79-36 career record, including a 35-22 mark with his former team, Elon University. Along with Lembo’s winning ways, the new coordinators combine for 43 years of coaching experience (Skrosky 28 and Bateman 15).

Ball State is returning most of its offensive leaders, so their offense should continue to improve. They bring back both quarterbacks, Keith Wenning and Kelly Page. Both contributed much to the offense last year. On top of that, they bring back their top three wide receivers, so this offense should have some firepower and be ready to go early.  Additionally, Ball State ranked second in the conference in sacks allowed, a trend that must continue for their offense to put points on the board. Unfortunately, the late transfer of Eric Williams puts a lot of pressure on sophomore running back David Brown and veteran Cory Sykes.

Defensively, Ball State brings back their top two leading tacklers, in safety Sean Baker and linebacker Travis Freemen. Both look to be strong leaders and continue their success for Ball States defense.

The defensive line was only able to obtain 14 sacks last year and six of those sacks are lost to the graduation of Robert Eddins. This unit will need to get more pressure on the quarterback this year if they want to turn around their record. This group last year ranked 10th in both scoring and total defense in their conference and will need to improve immensely if they want to be competitive in the MAC. Furthermore, this defense needs to become more stout against the run, ranking 11th in their conference last year. If you cannot stop the run, you will not win many football games.

Bottom Line:
Ball State has much to improve upon after a poor 2010 campaign. The new coaching staff looks like it will bring a bright future to the Cardinals, but it will not come quickly or easily. Although this team is returning many key players, they did not rank in the top 3 in their conference in a single stat, other than sacks allowed. With new coaches come new changes and a new life. Ball State’s start this coming August and Coach Pete Lembo, and his winning track record, will certainly have his team ready to go and turn a corner. Expect this team to improve from last year, but chances are slim they will be able to compete for a conference title at this time.

Projected Bowl: none

2010 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 152.25 (63rd in Nation, 5th in conference)
Passing Offense: 153.85 (109,13)
Total Offense: 305.83 (106, 10)
Scoring Offense: 22 (94, 7)
Rushing Defense: 178.33 (87, 11)
Passing Defense: 220.00 ( 59, 7)
Total Defense: 398.33 (79,10)
Scoring Defense: 30.42 (88,10)
Turnover Margin: -.42 (83,7)
Sacks: 1.17 (105, 12)
Sacks Allowed: 1.42 (29, 2)

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