Ball State Cardinals
Preview 2007 - Offense
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2006 CFN Ball State
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.
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
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.
Strength: 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
Weakness: 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.
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
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
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
Strength: 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.
Weakness: 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
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
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
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
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
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.
Strength: 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
Weakness: 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.
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
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.
Strength: 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.
Weakness: 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.