2013 Ball State Spring Football Analysis
Ball State Cardinals 2013 Season ...
Head Coach: Pete Lembo
Why To Be Excited ... The Cardinals were able to find ways to win with a defense that struggled mightily against the run and didn’t get into the backfield nearly often enough. With eight starters coming back, the D should be more efficient and more effective. Offensively, Jawhan Edwards is one of the MAC’s best backs, but the attack should thrive mostly through the air with quarterback Keith Wenning and all the top targets returning including speedy Willie Snead on the outside and tight end Zane Fakes. Three starters return to a defense that should be better with more help from the defensive front.
| 2013 Schedule|
8/29 Illinois State
9/14 at North Texas
9/21 at Eastern Michigan
10/5 at Virginia
10/12 Kent State
10/19 at Western Michigan
10/26 at Akron
11/6 Central Michigan
11/13 at Northern Illinois
11/23 OPEN DATE
11/20 Miami Univ.
Why To Be Grouchy ... There’s plenty of talent returning, but the few losses are massive, starting with linebackers Travis Freeman and Tony Martin, the team’s two top tacklers. Losing backup Justin Cruz won’t help the cause in the 4-2-5 alignment, while strong safety Jarrett Swaby has to be replaced. For a team that won several close games, losing kicker Steven Schott, who finished second in the nation in field goals, and punter Scott Kovanda will be a big problem.
What Needs Working On ...
Pass rush, pass rush, pass rush. The offense will be terrific and should be among the best in the MAC, but the games were way too tight last season because the defense struggled to come up with regular stops. It’ll all starts up front for a run defense that was entirely too soft and needs to find pass rushers and playmakers after averaging a pathetic four tackles for loss per game. The ends, Nick Miles, Jonathan Newsome and Michael Ayers, have to step up their respective games and they have to be far more aggressive. This is one of the MAC’s key teams in the title chase, but it needs to be more complete.
Non-Conference Games: Illinois State, Army, at North Texas, at Virginia
Games Against The East: at Akron, Kent State, Miami University
Realistic Best Case Record: 9-3
Worst Case Record: 6-6
Likely Finish: 8-4
Pre-Preseason Projected Wins: Illinois State, Army, at North Texas, at Eastern Michigan, Kent State, at Akron, Central Michigan, Miami Univ.
Pre-Preseason Projected Losses: Toledo, at Virginia, at Western Michigan, at Northern Illinois
Schedule Analysis: With Illinois State, Army and a trip to North Texas to start the season, there’s a good shot at a nice 3-0 start before getting into MAC play and a date at Eastern Michigan. Eventually, the schedule has to even out with tougher games, and it starts with a home game with Toledo before a trip to Virginia kicks off a run of three road games in four weeks. The date at Northern Illinois makes it four road games in six dates, but there’s two weeks off to prepare for the finale against Miami University.
Team Concerns For 2013: The Cardinals need to get more out of the defensive line. They've been able to get by with a great offense and solid special teams, but the D hasn't been pulling its weight, especially up front. The front four isn't making enough stops behind the line, and the pass rush hasn't been effective enough to help a secondary that gives up yards in bunches. The run defense has suffered, too, giving up 208 yards per game.
The 2013 Class Is Heavy On ... Offensive linemen. The Cardinals are getting a few nice linebackers in Anthony Winbush out of Indianapolis and JUCO transfer Stephan Martin, and the offensive line has the talent. Massive tackle prospect Haris Vrabac is the star of the bunch, but JUCO transfer P.J. Scott could push for a starting job right away and guard Vinnie Palazeti will eventually be a key part of the puzzle. Quarterback Jack Milas is an interesting get to develop for a 2016.
2012 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 93. That Class Was Heavy On ... Here come the defensive linemen. Past coaching staffs worked on several areas, and it started to pay off last year with a strong 6-6 season, but the defensive line needs more help in a hurry. It’s asking too much for the defensive tackles being brought in to play right away, but they need to bulk up the depth soon. The offensive line is getting a nice class of options for the interior.
2011 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 115. That Class Was Heavy On ... Receivers. New head man Pete Lembo inherits a team with plenty of promising defenders, and while he isn’t ignoring the defensive side, especially at outside linebacker, the team is cranking up the passing game with several new targets. The best of the lot might be 5-11, 175-pound Willie Snead, but the rest of the class, like the 6-1, Chris Shillings, the 6-5 Trey Gardner, and the 6-3 Jacolby Owens, is literally big.
2010 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 95. That Class Was
Heavy On ... The secondary.
This was a nice class considering the disastrous
freefall of last season. There wasn't a need for a
lot of young skill players, so the class focused on
defense and mostly the defensive backs with four
nice corner prospects signed led by Jeffery Garrett,
who should probably have taken a longer look at a
bigger name school, and the speedy Quintin Cooper.
Brian Jones should grow into a good nickel or free
2009 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 93. That Class Was
Heavy On ... Skill players and linebackers. The defense got three interesting linebackers for the inside, led by Jacob Green, while the outside was addressed with a few players. It’s strength in numbers time for the offense with several running backs and receivers to go along with QB Aaron Mershman. RB Eric Williams is the best prospect of the bunch.