2007 Ball State Preview - Offense

Posted Jul 17, 2007

Preview 2007 Ball State Cardinal Offense

Ball State Cardinals

Preview 2007 - Offense

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2007 Ball State Depth Chart | 2006 CFN Ball State Preview 

What you need to know:
The offense grew into something special as Nate Davis emerged as one of the MAC's star passers. He should be even better after surviving his true freshman season, and with four starters returning on the line, he should have more time to operate. The receiving corps should be fantastic led by tight end Darius Hill and receiver Dante Love, who's growing into a good number one target. Don't expect too much from the running game even with the expected emergence of quick sophomore MiQuale Lewis.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Nate Davis
150-245, 1,975 yds, 18 TD, 8 INT
Rushing: MiQuale Lewis
48 carries, 280 yds, 1 TD
Receiving: Darius Hill
52 catches, 734 yds, 4 TD

Star of the offense: Sophomore QB Nate Davis
Player that has to step up and become a star: Sophomore RB MiQuale Lewis
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore TE Madaris Grant
Best pro prospect: Junior TE Darius Hill
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Davis, 2) Hill, 3) WR Dante Love
Strength of the offense: Tight end, Davis
Weakness of the offense:
Running back, backup offensive line


Projected Starter: Everyone knew sophomore Nate Davis would eventually become the main man, but he wasn't supposed to blossom for a few years. Joey Lynch was supposed to be the MAC passing star, but Davis took over right off the bat throwing three touchdowns in the season opener against Eastern Michigan and, despite splitting time with Lynch, ended up completing 61% of his passes for 1,975 yards and 18 touchdowns and eight interceptions. While he's not going to run, he has good mobility to get his throws off. If he could handle himself that well when thrown to the fire as a true freshman, he's expected to blow up as a steady sophomore.

Projected Top Reserves: The clear number two in the mix, 6-7, 226-pound sophomore Zach Jones is a bomber with a big arm. While he hasn't seen any time and he'll need to prove he can be consistent, he's a promising prospect who could eventually be a good option if needed.

Walk-on Tanner Justice is a heady third option with good smarts and decent size. The 6-3, 193-pound sophomore is a limited passer compared to Davis and Jones, but he's more of a runner than the other two.

Watch Out For ... Davis to go from very good to special. With Lynch as an assistant and a strong mentor, Davis has good support, will likely be even more accurate, and will get even more help from a veteran receiving corps.
Efficiency. Who comes off the bench as a true freshman and leads the MAC, and finishes 17th in the nation in passing efficiency? Davis appeared this spring to be an even quicker decision maker, and now he should be an even more confident passer instead of simply trying to make the good play to avoid mistakes.
Experienced reserves. When Lynch became a backup last year, the Cardinals had a fantastic number two to rely on. Jones is a big, promising passer, but he needs to see time early on to get his feet wet.
Outlook: Davis is on the verge of superstardom in the MAC. He has seen big games, pressure situations (primarily the close call loss to Michigan), and has produced. Expect a few clunkers along the way in his development, but he has the weapons around him to throw for well over 3,000 yards. The rating would be higher if there were any reliable backups.
Rating: 7.5

Running Backs

Projected Starter: Is sophomore MiQuale Lewis healthy again? He's only 5-6 and 184 pounds, and now he has to prove he can be the type of runner the offense can rely on. He was solid when he got a little bit of time with 280 yards and a touchdown averaging 5.8 yards per carry, but he only had two games with double-digit carries and got knocked out for the year with a shoulder injury after just six games. He's a dangerous quick back who'll be a major player in both the running and passing games.

Projected Top Reserves: Considering Lewis isn't exactly a workhorse type of runner, there will be plenty of chances to for others to see time. 5-11, 193-pound sophomore Colby McGee will go into the fall as the number two back after running for 32 yards in a limited role. While not as quick as Lewis, he's a good runner who's more likely to get double-digit carries to add some semblance of balance for the offense.

On the way is true freshman Frank Edmonds, a speed rusher who'll instantly be the team's most dangerous rushing weapon. A star Ohio high school sprinter, he's a bolt of lightning as both a runner and a receiver.

Watch Out For ... the backs to be more effective as receivers than runners. The offense will win through the air, and if the backs aren't producing when getting the ball on the move, they likely won't be too successful for the overall attack.
Quickness. Lewis is cut-on-a-dime quick able to dart in and out of traffic at will. McGee is good on the move, and Edmonds is next-level fast. There's too much speed to not crank out more home runs.
Power. There isn't any unless 221-pound sophomore Jacolby Bond plays a major role. The coaching staff would like to have more balance, but it'll take a tailback-by-committee to crank out more than the 1,103 yards and ten touchdowns of last year.
Outlook: 106th in the nation in rushing last year, the ground game deferred to the passing attack to make the offense move, and it'll likely do the same again. Lewis appears to be healthy again after his shoulder injury, but if McGee, Edmonds and Bond don't provide good support in the rotation, there won't be any appreciable improvement on the overall numbers.
Rating: 4.5


Projected Starters: The MAC's best passing game has decent wide receivers to work with, but the best pass catcher of the bunch is 6-6, 233-pound junior Darius Hill, who led the team with 741 yards and ten touchdowns on 42 catches. A next-level athlete, he was unstoppable early last year with three straight 100-yard games, but he disappeared for stretches over the second half of the year before finishing with a 116-yard performance in the win over Kent State. While he's not much of a blocker, he's a matchup nightmare.

The team's leading returning receiver is junior Dante Love, who made 52 catches for 735 yards and four scores. While not a field-stretcher by any means. he's a consistent, quick possession receiver who turned into a steady target. He's more suited for an inside job, but he'll start on the outside X position.

Getting the nod at the inside Z will be senior Dan Dunford, at least to start the year, after making just four catches for 46 yards. Even though he's a fantastic athlete, he's a pure possession receiver who has the potential to make big plays when he gets the ball on the move. In a perfect world, he's a fourth receiver and a top backup.

Projected Top Reserves: Looking to push Dunford out of a starting gig will be 6-1, 182-pound junior Louis Johnson, who made 26 catches for 327 yards and two touchdowns and appeared to be a rising star before injuring his knee this spring. He had surgery for a torn ACL, but he's still expected to be back at some point this year to be more of a field-stretcher.

While Hill is the top pass catching tight end, sophomore Madaris Grant will see plenty of time in two tight end sets as more of a big wide receiver than a blocker. He's 6-5, 228 pounds and a deep threat who should thrive in single coverage.

At some point, 6-3, 190-pound sophomore DeAndrie Rogers will be a major player on the outside. he'll start out behind Love, but he has just enough speed to be a dangerous deep threat and the size to be able to outphysical most smaller defensive backs.

Watch Out For ... Hill and Grant to be one of the nations' better tight end tandems. Hill will do his part, and if Grant plays up to his potential, the Cardinals will have two dangerous targets to work with.
Veterans. Hill is proven, Love, at the very worst, is a good mid-range receiver, and Dunford is a decent veteran who can make plays from time to time. They're all solid route runners.
Depth. If Johnson's partially torn ACL turns out to be a season-ender, the depth will suddenly be paper thin. There's good potential in Grant, Rogers, and redshirt freshman Joe Everett, but there isn't any proven production.
Outlook: While it would be nice if there were more home-run hitters, that's nitpicking for a good veteran group that has several excellent role players. As long as Hill is being Hill, and if Love can make a few more big plays, and if Johnson can return healthy, there will be plenty of big moments to go around.
Rating: 6

Offensive Linemen

Projected Starters: With four starters returning, the line has to be far better, and that starts with junior tackles Robert Brewster and Andre Ramsey, who both have size, but aren't the best pass protectors. The 6-5, 312-pound Brewster will start on the right side and should be even quicker after getting in better shape. He started from day one as a doughy freshman, dripped about 20 pounds, and needs to play up to his potential. The 6-5, 305-pound Ramsey, unlike Brewster, has gotten bigger. He struggled as a true freshman, and improved as a sophomore starting every game on the right side.

In the middle returns 6-3, 287-pound junior center Dan Gerberry, who's been a solid center over the last two seasons starting every game. While he's not an all-star, he's a good, consistent blocker who should be even better considering all his experience making the line calls.

Getting in better shape is 6-6, 313-pound sophomore John Purdy after coming into last season around 345 pounds. He has a huge frame and can be a pile-mover, but he has to be better against the quicker linemen. He took over early in the year and started the final eight games at left guard.

The one newcomer to the starting mix is 6-8, 291-pound redshirt freshman Travis Arnold, who has the frame to play tackle but fits right away at guard. He'll start out on the right side, but he'll have to fight to keep the job throughout the year.

Projected Top Reserves: 6-5, 293-pound junior Eric Larrimer has been a spot starter at times and will be a strong reserve at right guard behind Arnold. He's athletic enough to play tackle if needed, but he's more suited for guard.

Also looking to get back in the rotation is 6-4, 262-pound junior Kyle Cornwell, who started the first four games at right guard before suffering a knee injury. He was back in spring ball, but he's not 100% and will have a hard time getting his starting job back right away.

Senior center Dustin Brown can play guard, but is more likely to see time in the middle in a battle with 296-pound sophomore Jordan Applegate for playing time behind Gerberry. Brown's a tough veteran who'll see time as the season goes on.

Watch Out For ... a better year. The line started to get better as the season went on, and now it should jell into the best lineup the team has had in several years.
Experience. The program took a hit two years ago when playing several freshmen two years ago, struggled through the problems over the last two seasons, and now has to hope it's all coming together.
Depth. There's no developed experience whatsoever with the top backups coming off of injury. After building for the last few years, a slew of injuries would be devastating.
Outlook: With four starters returning, there has to be more done in all phases. There wasn't much of a push for the running game, but that was sort of by design with the passing game dominating. Protecting the quarterback is more important early on, and the production should be there with all the cohesion among the veterans.
Rating: 5.5


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2007 Ball State Preview
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jul 17, 2007
2007 Ball State Preview - Defense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jul 17, 2007
2007 Ball State Preview - Depth Chart
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jul 17, 2007

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