Ball State Preview 2006
Posted Aug 7, 2006

All things considered, 2005 wasn't really that bad.

Offense | Defense | Depth Chart | Further Analysis

Ball State finished the season near the bottom in every meaningful statistical category imaginable with the defense allowing a MAC-worst 459 yards and 37.8 points per game and the offense, hurt mostly by a young offensive line that tied with Buffalo for the most sacks allowed in America, was never consistent and averaged a mere 288 yards and 21.18 points per game.

The lack of production on both sides of the ball can be blamed on one thing: a textbook. While the program never made excuses, the season wasn't anywhere what it could've been after 16 players were suspended for several games throughout the first part of the season because of a book loan program that turned out to be a violation of NCAA rules.

Head coach: Brady Hoke
4th year: 10-24
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 24, Def. 27, ST 3
Lettermen Lost: 14
Ten Best Cardinal Players
1. QB Joey Lynch, Sr.
2. SS Erik Keys, Sr.
3. LB Bryant Haines, Soph.
4. P Chris Miller, Soph.
5. LB Brad Seiss, Sr. INJ
6. FS Trey Lewis, Soph.
7. WR Louis Johnson, Soph.
8. TE Darius Hill, Soph.
9. WR Terry Moss, Sr.
10. TE Michael Steinhaus, Sr.

2006 Schedule
CFN Prediction:

8/31 Eastern Michigan
9/9 Indiana
9/16 at Purdue
9/23 North Dakota State
9/30 Northern Illinois
10/7 at Buffalo
10/14 at Central Michigan
10/21 Western Michigan
10/28 at Miami Univ.
11/4 at Michigan
11/14 at Toledo
11/24 Kent State

2005 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2005 Record
: 4-7
Preview 2005 predicted wins

9/3 at Iowa L 56-0
9/10 Bowling Green L 40-31
9/17 at Auburn L 63-3
10/1 at Boston Coll L 38-0
10/8 at W Mich W 60-57 5OT
10/15 Toledo L 34-14
10/22 at Ohio L 38-21
10/29 at No Illinois W 31-17
11/5 Akron W 23-17
11/12 at Eastern Mich W 26-25
11/19 Central Mich L 31-24 OT

Even with all of last year's issues, the team was competitive in MAC play beating title game participants Northern Illinois and Akron and coming within an overtime loss of Central Michigan of finishing a very respectable 5-6. There aren't any excuses this season for not having a big year with 17 returning starters including ten on offense led by potential All-MAC QB Joey Lynch.

For a program that hasn't had a winning season since 1996 and has only ten wins in the three-year Brady Hoke era, it's not exactly the time to get greedy and start shooting for the MAC title, but there's no reason this can't be one of the league's sleeper teams doing some damage throughout the season like Central Michigan and Western Michigan did last year. Can Ball State be this year's Akron? No, it's still too young a team to make that kind of leap in a division with Northern Illinois and Toledo, but expect this to be a fun season with a lot more scoring and plenty of close, competitive games leading the way to what should be a fantastic 2007.

The Schedule: It's good early and nasty late with four of the first five games at home and then a brutal run of five road games in six before finishing up against Kent State. The Cardinals get a huge break getting Buffalo and Kent State from the MAC East and get top West teams Northern Illinois and Western Michigan at home. However, they'd better count on a late season swoon playing at Miami University, at Michigan and at Toledo over a three game span.

Best Offensive Player: Senior QB Joey Lynch. He was running for his life behind a porous offensive line and still managed to come up with an effective year. He's an ultra-efficient passer who doesn't make mistakes with only nine interceptions in 25 career games. He's not going to run for any significant yards, but he's a perfect veteran to lead this experienced, but still young, offense to a better season.

Best Defensive Player: Senior SS Erik Keys. He's limited in pass coverage and might not be the best playmaker around, but he's a solid veteran against the run and a tone-setting hitter when he gets someone in his sights. He'll combine with Trey Lewis to form one of the MAC's better safety tandems.

Key player to a successful season: Senior NT Tom Kellar. The run defense got shoved all over the place last season allowing 202 yards per game. Kellar is a 303-pound strong senior who hasn't done anything yet for a variety of reasons. He was one of the suspended players last year, but now he'll be expected to grow into a rock on the nose providing an anchor the defense desperately needs. 

The season will be a success if ... Ball State comes up with six wins. If the team can go 4-7 last year with all the problems, then an extra two victories this year with so many returning veterans is a more-than-attainable goal. To get there, there needs to be a few upsets along the way and a huge start with all the top home games over the first half of the season.

Key game: August 31st vs. Eastern Michigan. The Cardinals didn't win their first game last season until mid-October and didn't win their second game until almost November. Getting off to a great start with a win over a West Division foe like Eastern Michigan is a must; they can't afford to give away any home games.

2005 Fun Stats: 
- Second quarter scoring: Opponents 144 - Ball State 44
- Sacks: Opponents 43 for 245 yards - Ball State 16 for 99 yards
- Yards per carry: Opponents 5.0 - Ball State 2.9

The Last Time Ball State…
…played in a bowl game…1996 (Las Vegas Bowl vs. Nevada)
…missed a bowl game…2005
…pitched a shutout…2000 (UConn)
…was shutout…2005 (Boston College)
…scored 50 points…2005 (Western Michigan)
…went undefeated…1965
…won a conference title…1996 (MAC)
…had a 3,000-yard passer…Never
…had a 1,000-yard rusher…2002 (Marcus Merriweather)
…had a 1,000-yard receiver…2004 (Dante Ridgeway)
…had a first-round draft choice…Never

Related Stories
Ball State Preview 2006 - Offense
 -by  Aug 7, 2006
Ball State Preview 2006 - Further Analysis
 -by  Aug 7, 2006
Ball State Preview 2006 - Depth Chart
 -by  Aug 7, 2006

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