#90 Ball State Football 2014 Preview

Ball State Cardinals

Overall Rank: #90
#4 Mid-American

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The big story at Ball State is that Pete Lembo is back on the sidelines. He had plenty of interest from bigger programs, but ended up signing a long term deal with the Cardinals. But now Coach Lembo has to move on without quarterback Keith Wenning. Wenning may not have garnered much national attention, but his numbers were amazing. Last year he threw for 4,148 yards and 35 touchdowns with just seven interceptions. Sophomore Ozzie Mann and freshman Jack Milas are the top candidates to replace Wenning, but neither secured the job in the spring.

2013 Record: (10-3, 7-1)
2013 Bowl: GoDaddy.com Bowl vs. Arkansas State (L 20-23)
Coach: Pete Lembo (25-13 at Ball State, 25-13 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Joey Lynch
Defensive Coordinator: Kevin Kelly

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Jahwan Edwards, RB, 1,110 yards
Passing: Ozzie Mann, QB, 29 yards
Receiving: Jordan Williams, WR, 1,050 yards
Tackles: Ben Ingle, LB, 116
Sacks: Nick Miles, DE, 5.0
Interceptions: Martez Hester, S, 2

Other Key Returnees: RB Horactio Banks, K Scott Secor, S Brian Jones, LB Zack Ryan, S Dae’Shaun Hurley

Key Losses: QB Keith Wenning, WR Willie Snead, WR Jamill Smith, DE Jonathan Newsome, CB Jeffery Garrett, DT Nathan Ollie, OL Jordan Hansel, OL Matthew Page, TE Zane Fakes

The offense should take a step back without Wenning, but the focus will shift to the ground game for now. Jahwan Edwards rushed for 1,110 yards and 14 touchdowns, while Horactio Banks added 595 yards and seven trips to the end zone. It will be different for Ball State to spend more time on the ground, and it will depend on how the passing attack develops, but Coach Lembo has the pieces to do it. Returning three starters on the line in Steven Bell, Jacob Richard and Jalen Schlachter will certainly help the ground attack. But those three will also provide plenty of time for the new quarterback. They were part of an offensive line that ranked 17th in the nation in sacks allowed. But the quarterback’s new best friend will be Jordan Williams, who caught 72 passes for 1,050 yards and ten scores a year ago. Willie Snead and Jamill Smith are gone, but Williams is ready to step up even more and other youngsters like KeVonn Mabon will help out.

While the offense takes a step back, the defense will take a step up. However, this is still a squad that will win games with their offense. The defense did an amazing job creating turnovers last year, picking off 13 passes and recovering 18 fumbles. Yet, the secondary would give up some big plays of their own. Dae’Shaun Hurley was just a freshman last year and totaled 83 tackles, so the hope is he can emerge as a star. Seniors Eric Patterson and Brian Jones have another year of experience under their belt too and that experience should help reduce the amount of big plays allowed. The front four returns just one starter, but end Nick Miles is a good piece to build around. Getting consistent pressure on the opposing quarterback is a big concern though, especially if the secondary does not step up. The strength of the defense should be in the middle where linebackers Ben Ingle and Zack Ryan return. Ingle led the team with 116 tackles as a sophomore and Ryan looked like a veteran in the middle of the defense, tallying 92 tackles as a freshman.

The Bottom Line:
Reaching ten wins may be asking too much barring a surprisingly quick turnaround at quarterback, but this is a team that should compete for a MAC West title and reach their third straight bowl game. They will be half way there after non-conference games against Colgate, Indiana State and Army. The big games will be in November against Northern Illinois and Bowling Green. Those two contests should determine if the Cardinals can make it to the MAC championship.

Projected Bowl: Famous Idaho Potato Bowl

2013 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 152.9 (79th in nation, 7th in conference)
Passing Offense: 324.2 (12, 1)
Total Offense: 477.1 (19, 2)
Scoring Offense: 38.5 (15, 2)
Rushing Defense: 195.3 (92, 7)
Pass Defense: 218.5 (44, 8)
Total Defense: 413.8 (77, 7)
Scoring Defense: 24.7 (47, 3)
Turnover Margin: 0.9 (12, 3)
Sacks:  2.08 (59, 7)
Sacks Allowed: 1.23 (17, 4)


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