2014 Ball State Cardinals Team Preview

Team Info
Ball State Cardinals
Head Coach: Pete Lembo
2013 Record: 10-3 overall, 7-1 MAC West
2013 Bowl Result: Lost to Arkansas State 23-20 in the GoDaddy Bowl
2013 Returning Starters: 5 offense, 6 defense

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Ball State won 10 games in 2013 but must repalce quarterback Keith Wenning, a four year starter.

Ball State won 10 games in 2013 but must repalce quarterback Keith Wenning, a four year starter.

Pete Lembo has been the football coach for the Ball State Cardinals for 13 years now. They are regularly among the best teams in the MAC. Still, the program is looking for the elusive first bowl win in school history. The Cardinals went 10-3 last year and 7-1 in the MAC West. The only conference loss came to Northern Illinois who finished the regular season undefeated. The only other loss in the regular season came at North Texas who went to a bowl game last year. Ball State was upset 23-20 by Arkansas State in the GoDaddy Bowl.

Even though only eleven starters are back for Ball State, they should be in a tight three team race for the MAC West title again with Northern Illinois and Toledo.

Offense

Ball State was #13 nationally in passing at 324 yards per game and the Cardinals also averaged 153 rushing yards per game. Ball State was #16 nationally in scoring at 39 points a game. Only five starters are back for offensive coordinator Joey Lynch.

The biggest loss on offense is quarterback Keith Wenning, a four year starter, now with the Baltimore Ravens. During his brilliant career he threw for over 11,000 yards and 92 touchdowns. He holds virtually every passing record in school history. Last year, he threw for 4,148 yards with 35 touchdowns and 7 interceptions, and also added 5 rushing touchdowns.

A pair of youngsters, sophomore Ozzie Mann and redshirt freshman Jack Milas competed throughout spring and fall practice for the starting job. Lembo announced earlier this week that Mann won a close competition. Mann has 9 career attempts in college.

Running back Jahwan Edwards is back after he had 212 carries for 1,110 yards with 14 touchdowns, and he also had 7 catches. Primary back-up Horactio Banks also returns after he had 95 carries for 595 yards and 7 touchdowns. Sophomore Teddy Williamson will also get some carries after he had 69 carries for 227 yards and a touchdown last year.

Three of the top four receivers are gone for Ball State. Willie Snead left early for the NFL and is now with the Cleveland Browns. Snead had 106 catches for 1,516 yards and 15 touchdowns last season. Jamill Smith is also gone after making 67 catches for 911 yards and 8 touchdowns, and also added a rushing touchdown. Tight end Zane Fakes has also departed after making 41 catches for 410 yards and 2 touchdowns last year. The only returning key receiver is junior Jordan Williams who had 72 catches for 1,050 yards and 10 touchdowns. No other Cardinal receiver had more than 10 catches last year, so it is unclear who will line up on the other side or at tight end.

Three starters return to the offensive line, led by center Jacob Richard. With so few experienced players at quarterback and receiver, expect Ball State to depend way more on the run than they did in 2013.

Defense

Defensive coordinator Jay Batemen left to take same position at Army. Lembo hired Georgetown head coach coach Kevin Kelly to run the defense. Six starters are back from a unit that allowed 414 yards and 25 points per game. The Cardinals had a turnover margin of +12 last season.

Defensive end Nick Miles is the only returning starter on the line after making 5 sacks last year. Projected starting nose tackle Carlutorbantu Zaramo injured his knee in spring practice and is out indefinitely.

Outside linebacker Ben Ingle had 116 tackles last season. Middle linebacker Zack Ryan started every game last season.

The secondary should be the strength of the defense with safeties Brian Jones, Dae’Shaun Hurley and Martez Hester joining corner Eric Patterson.

Special Teams

Kicker Scott Secor is back for his senior season after leading the MAC in scoring last year with 117 points. Punter Kyle Schmidt averaged 41 yards per punt last year. Jamill Smith will be difficult to replace as a returner, and it isn’t clear who will return punts or kicks for Ball State in 2014.

Outlook / Schedule

Aside from a tough road trip to Iowa, Ball State has a soft non-conference schedule with home games against Colgate and Indiana State. The Cardinals also travel to Army. In the MAC, Ball State travels to Toledo, Central Michigan, Massachusetts, and Bowling Green. The Cards host Western Michigan, Akron, Northern Illinois, and Eastern Michigan. Trips to Iowa, Toledo and Bowling Green will be difficult as will Northern Illinois at home. Every other game is very winnable. I will give the Cardinals the benefit of the doubt and say they win at least one of the tough games and win 9 games.

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Posted by on Aug 21 2014. Filed under College Football, Headlines. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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