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2013 Ball State Preview – Offense

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jul 20, 2013


CollegeFootballNews.com 2013 Preview - Ball State Cardinal Offense


Ball State Cardinals

Preview 2013 - Offense

- 2013 Ball State Preview | 2013 Ball State Offense
- 2013 Ball State Defense | 2013 Ball State Depth Chart

What You Need To Know: The offense clicked averaging 457 yards and 33.6 points per game with a strong passing game and a terrific ground attack. The only real concern coming into the year is a revamped line that should be fine, but only gets back one full-time starter. If the blocking is sharp again, everything else will fall into place with quarterback Keith Wenning one of the MAC’s most experienced and effective passers getting to work with Willie Snead and all of the top targets from last year. The 1-2 rushing punch of Jahwan Edwards and Horactio Banks should combine for close to 2,000 yards, but the offense will mostly work around the direction of the rock-steady Wenning.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Keith Wenning
301-460, 3,095 yds, 24 TD, 10 INT
Rushing: Jahwan Edwards
232 carries, 1,410 yds, 14 TD
Receiving: Willie Snead
89 catches, 1,148 yds, 9 TD

Star of the offense: Senior QB Keith Wenning
Player who has to step up and be a star: Senior OT Matthew Page
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore WR KeVonn Mabon
Best pro prospect: Senior OG Jordan Hansel
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Wenning, 2) TE Zane Fakes, 3) WR Willie Snead
Strength of the offense: Skill Players, Running Game
Weakness of the offense: Line Experience, Overall Depth

Quarterbacks

Senior Keith Wenning grew into the starting job over the last two seasons following up his 2,786-yard 2011 season with 3,095 yards and 24 touchdowns with ten picks in a consistent and solid season. The 6-3, 220-pounder is a big, stronger passer who was originally signed on to upgrade the passing attack, and he’s doing just that as he’s just now blossoming into something special. A late bloomer, he was given the option to walk on at Ohio State, but instead he brought his Ohio state championship résumé to Muncie. A good leader with the smarts and the ability to make the offense his, he was on fire for stretches last season with 445 yards and five scores in the shootout loss to Kent State and 434 yards the following week against Northern Illinois. Now he has to come up with a few more big wins over the better teams, but he’s 2-0 against Indiana.

While Wenning is the franchise, 6-1, 230-pound redshirt freshman Ozzie Mann, is a decent passing option with a good athleticism. He’s not necessarily a runner, but he’s a winner with good accuracy. Sophomore Kyle Kamman is a 6-2, 180-pound walk-on who threw a pass against Miami University, but has yet to see any meaningful action. Very smart, he can step in at a moment’s notice and produce.

Watch Out For … true freshman Jack Milas, a 6-1, 199-pound passer who’s ultra-accurate and has a live arm. A top baseball pitcher, he can bring the heat and get the ball all over the field.
Strength: Wenning’s experience. With 7,254 yards and 57 touchdowns of experience, he’s the team leader and the star to work everything around. He has been in enough big games against enough good teams to not be fazed by anything.
Weakness: Backup experience. There isn’t any with Mann needing to get on the field and Kamman needing to throw a few passes. Everyone can throw and everyone fits a type, but there’s huge drop off after Wenning.
Outlook: There isn’t much mobility and the depth is sketchy, but as long as Wenning is up and firing, the offense will move.
Unit Rating: 7

Running Backs

Junior Jahwan Edwards has become exactly what the offense has needed over the last few years. He came on as a steady producer as a true freshman running for 786 yards and 11 scores, and followed it up with a strong 1,410-yard, 14 score season beginning with a 200-yard day against Eastern Michigan and finishing with six 100-yard days on the season with three touchdowns in the win over Miami and three more in the victory over Western Michigan. At 5-10 and 230 pounds he’s a big, strong pinball of a back who can hit the hole hard and batter away when needed. He has a little bit of deep speed, but he’s more of a workhorse who can crank out yards in chunks averaging 6.1 yards per pop.

5-10, 184-pound sophomore Horactio Banks carved out a nice niche as a true freshman finishing with 586 yards and four touchdowns averaging 5.2 yards per carry. Banged up for a bit during the middle of the season, he managed to make things happen when he got his chances returning to run for 135 yards and a score against Ohio and with a thrilling 120 yards and two touchdowns on just seven carries against Clemson. While not used much as a receiver with just five catches for 29 yards, he could turn into a dangerous threat.

Watch Out For … the backs to be used more as receivers. Banks needs the ball in his hands in space and Edwards only caught ten passes for 51 yards. They won’t be targeted on a regular basis, but it’s time to get more creative.
Strength: Yards per carry. It’s partly a function of the offense and partly due to the talent of the backs. Edwards and Banks rip off big yards in bunches and are always moving forward. They rarely get dropped behind the line.
Weakness: Depth. There’s Edwards, Banks and prayers for health. There aren’t any star backs on the horizon with 5-9, 171-pounder Teddy Williamson the only back brought in. It’s a surprisingly thin stable.
Outlook: Edwards and Banks should be as effective as any 1-2 rushing punch in the MAC as long as they’re healthy. If everything goes according to plan, they should be able to combine for close to 2,000 yards again.
Unit Rating: 6.5

Receivers

The passing attack has a good No. 1 target to work around in veteran X man Willie Snead, a 5-11, 193-pound speedster who led the team with 89 catches for 1,148 yards and nine scores, lighting up Kent State for 14 catches for 216 yards and two touchdowns a week after making 11 catches in the win over South Florida. The former Michigan Player of the Year was a dual-threat high school quarterback who’s consistent and steady, but also dangerous. The 12.9 yards-per-catch might not have been special, but he can strike from anywhere.

Snead might be the primary target, but senior Jamil Smith has grown into a nice complementary playmaker finishing second on the team with 69 catches for 706 yards and six scores highlighted by a 14-catch, 146-yard day in the loss to Northern Illinois. At 5-8 and 140 pounds he’s not smallish, but he’s incredibly quick and knows what he’s doing as both a receiver and punt returner. Also back is fifth-year senior Connor Ryan, a 6-1, 194-pound veteran at the W position, finishing fourth on the team with 44 catches for 357 yards and three scores. A pure possession receiver, he caught two touchdown passes against Kent State and was good for around three catches per game overall.

6-3, 208-pound sophomore KeVonn Mabon is a nice-looking big target with great hands behind Ryan at the W finishing fifth on the team with 23 catches for 335 yards and two scores. He came on over the second half of the season catching at least two balls a game over the final eight outings. At 6-2 and 216 pounds, sophomore Jordan Williams brings more size to the X spot behind Williams. He got in a little time but didn’t catch any passes, while 6-1, 205-pound junior Chris Shillings is a much bigger option than Smith at the Z with a little bit of experience catching four passes for 51 yards.

Senior Zane Fakes has turned into a nice all-around first-team All-MAC tight end catching 57 balls last season for 461 yards and five scores after being used sparingly over his first few seasons. He’s not a blaster of a blocker, but the 6-3, 237-pounder is functions. More than anything else he’s a reliable outlet target on short passes, picking apart NIU for 11 catches and serving as Keith Wenning’s safety valve. One again he’ll be backs up by sophomore Dylan Curry and senior David Schneider, two nice-sized options who can catch a little bit. Curry is more of the prototype at 6-5 and 260 pounds, catching three passes for 51 yards, while the 6-2, 240-pound Schneider is more of a fullback-like blocker. There’s more help on the way with the addition of Calvin Blank, one of the team’s top recruits. At 6-5 and 220 pounds with excellent hands, he has the tools.

Watch Out For … Mabon. He might be stuck in a bit of a rut as the No. 4 receiver, but with his size and skill set he’ll be an even bigger part of the offense with the upside and ability to eventually be the go-to guy after leading the top receivers in yards per catch.
Strength: Veterans. Everyone is back. Throw in RB Jahwan Edwards and the Cardinals return the top six pass catchers and everyone who made ten grabs or more. Combined with Wenning, this should be a dangerous air attack.
Weakness: Big plays. There’s speed, quickness and a boatload of experience, but there aren’t that many huge hits with the team averaging just 10.4 yards per grab. That’s a function of the offense, but it would be nice to stretch the field a bit more.
Outlook: This should be a huge strength. Snead is an all-star who’ll be as reliable as they come, while Smith, Ryan and Mabon form a devastating supporting cast. The tight end situation is as strong as any in the MAC.
Unit Rating: 6.5

Offensive Line

The offensive line made it all go last season with a sensational season despite plenty of shuffling. One of the constants was Jordan Hansel at 6-4, 326-pound third-team All-Conference performer at the strong guard spot. He started every game but one last season, missing the Miami game with an injury, blasting away for the ground game and being the one everything worked behind in key situations. Beefed up over the last few years, he’s turning into an NFL prospect. He’ll work next to 6-4, 289-pound redshirt freshman Drake Miller at the strong tackle spot. A promising athlete, he moves extremely well and has the right frame and body to grow into the job over the next four years.

Veteran Matthew Page will step in at the quick tackle spot after spending all of last year as a key backup. Athletic with a good frame, the senior has the 6-6, 300-pound body and experience to be just fine as the next man up. Taking over in the middle is 6-1, 285-pound sophomore Jacob Richard, an academic all-conference performer who got four starts on the year and showed he could handle himself well in the role. The former walk-on might not have the right look or body, but he’s a try-hard type who finishes his blocks well. 6-6, 317-pound sophomore Jalen Schlachter will step in at quick guard after seeing time as a key backup throughout last season. He’s built more like a tackle, but he’ll be a decent interior pass rusher on the inside.

Watch Out For … two new guys. 6-7, 337-pound Haris Vrabac was the team’s top recruit great frame and terrific finishing skills. He’ll someday be the anchor at tackle, while JUCO transfer P.J. Scott is being brought in to produce instant depth after starting for the last two years at NE Oklahoma A&M Junior College. At 6-2 and 293 pounds he’s build more like a guard and can play almost anywhere up front.
Strength: Pass protection. The offense makes sure the quarterback gets the ball out of his hands in a hurry, but the line does its part. Last year it paved the way for over 200 rushing yards per game and allowed a MAC-low 14 sacks. However …
Weakness: Lots and lots of turnover. The new starters saw plenty of time and should be more than fine in time, but Hansel is the only regular starter returning.
Outlook: The line will be find, but the developed and experienced depth is extremely thin and it might take a while to get all the new starters jelled. This is a good-looking group of veteran backups who know what they’re doing, but Hansel and Page are the likely only sure things. The overall production will be better than the talent level.
Unit Rating: 5.5
 
- 2013 Ball State Preview | 2013 Ball State Offense
- 2013 Ball State Defense | 2013 Ball State Depth Chart