2007 Ball State Cardinals

Posted Dec 31, 2007

2007 Ball State Cardinals Season, Game Recaps, Scores and Reviews

Ball State Cardinals

Recap: For the first time since 1996, Ball State finished a season above .500 and in a bowl game, riding the right arm of QB Nate Davis and the MAC's most prolific passing attack to seven wins.  While the defense rarely held up against better competition, Davis was able to overcome, throwing 30 touchdown passes to just six interceptions with the help of all-league receivers Dante Love and Darius Hill.  Even in losing regular season games to Nebraska, Illinois, and Indiana, Ball State performed admirably, nearly stunning the Huskers in Lincoln on Sept. 21.                

Offensive Player of the Year: QB Nate Davis

Defensive Player of the Year: LB Bryant Haines

Biggest Surprise: DE Brandon Crawford.  A 31-year old former Marine, Crawford developed into one of the defensive leaders and the Cardinals' most reliable pass rusher.  After playing sparingly in 2006, he set the standard in Muncie with 16 tackles for loss and seven sacks.     

Biggest Disappointment: The Cardinals were every bit as potent as the Huskers in September, but fell one point short in a lost opportunity to make a resounding national statement.  Ball State ripped the home team for more than 600 yards of offense, but could only claim a moral victory after missing the potential game-winning field goal in the final seconds.    

Looking Ahead: Led by Davis, the entire offense returns in 2008, a frightening thought for MAC defensive coordinators.  If the Cardinal defense makes even modest progress next fall, Ball State will be a season-long factor in the race with Central Michigan to win the West Division.

- 2007 BSU Preview
2006 BSU Season

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2007 Record: 7-6

Aug. 30 Miami Univ. L 14-13
Sept. 8 at East Mich W 38-16
Sept. 15 at Navy W 34-31 OT
Sept. 22 at Nebraska L 41-40
Sept. 29
Buffalo W 49-14
Oct. 6 Central Mich L 58-38
Oct. 13 W Kentucky W 35-12
Oct. 20 at West Mich W 27-23
Oct. 27 at Illinois L 28-17
Nov. 3 at Indiana L 38-20
Nov. 13
Toledo W 41-20
Nov. 24 at No Illinois W 27-21
International Bowl
Jan. 5 Rutgers L 52-30

Jan. 5
2008 International Bowl
Rutgers 52 ... Ball State 30

Ray Rice ran for 280 yards and four scores highlighted by a 90-yard scoring dash on the third play in the second half to give Rutgers a 31-9 lead. Ball State kept the pressure on with Nate Davis and the passing game, with two fourth quarter touchdown passes to Darius Hill and a ten-yard scoring toss to Dante Love, but balanced Scarlet Knight offense proved to be too much to overcome. Along with the big dash, Rice also scored three times for one yard out, but it was the passing attack that made it a blowout with Mike Teel starting off the game with a 36-yard touchdown pass to Tim Brown on the opening drive, and putting it away with a 47-yard strike to Kenny Britt late in the fourth. Rutgers rolled up 595 yards of total offense, 292 on the ground and 303 through the air, while Ball State amassed 460 total yards.
Offensive Player of the Game: Rutgers RB Ray Rice ran 35 times for 280 yards and four touchdowns.
Defensive Player of the Game: Rutgers S Courtney Greene made ten tackles and broke up a pass
Stat Leaders: Ball State
- Passing: Nate Davis, 25-49, 291 yds, 3 TD
Rushing: Chris Clancy, 12-98. Receiving: Dante Love, 13-169, 1 TD
Rutgers - Passing: Mike Teel, 16-25, 303 yds, 3 TD, 1 INT
Ray Rice, 35-280, 4 TD. Receiving: Kenny Britt, 6-125, 1 TD

Thoughts & Notes ...
It was a more entertaining game than it'll be remembered for. Ray Rice made a great final statement showing he belongs in the 2008 NFL Draft, while Nate Davis had a fantastic day throwing the ball under tremendous pressure throughout. Even though Rutgers had command from the beginning, there was a moment or two in the second half when it looked like the Cardinals had a shot to turn it around. ... Rice was the star of the game, but Mike Teel was terrific. He was on the mark most of the day, and he threw a beautiful, perfect ball to Kenny Britt to seal the win. ... Rutgers came up with six sacks, Ball State one. The Cardinals didn't have the defensive line to hold up against the solid Rutgers offensive front. ... The Scarlet Knights appeared to care from the beginning. This was an overmatched Ball State team, but Rutgers never played like it.

Nov. 24
Ball State 27 ... Northern Illinois 21
Ball State got three sacks from Brandon Crawford and two touchdown passes from Nate Davis to hold off a pesky Northern Illinois. The Huskies got two Ryan Morris touchdown passes including a 23-yard strike to Evans Adonis with 1:32 to play, but BSU recovered the onside kick and ran out the clock. The two teams combined for nine sacks with NIU finishing with -1 rushing yard.
Player of the game: Ball State QB Nate Davis completed 23 of 35 passes for 326 yards and two touchdowns and ran for a score.
Stat Leaders: Ball State - Passing: Nate Davis, 23-35, 326 yds, 2 TD
Rushing: Frank Edmonds, 5-33. Receiving: Dante Love, 9-135
Northern Illinois - Passing: Ryan Morris, 24-44, 252 yds, 2 TD, 1 INT
David Bryant, 17-37, 1 TD. Receiving: Matt Simon, 7-86

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ...
It was a struggle, but the Cardinals got past a NIU team that fought hard on Senior Day to cement its bowl plans. At 6-6 the Cards would likely have been left out, but they're in at 7-5. Nate Davis was his typical fantastic passing self, but it took way too long to put the game away. The defense isn't going to be a rock, but it had a knack over the second half of the year of coming up clutch in MAC play. Forget about the D; in the expected bowl game, it'll be all about Davis bombing away.

Nov 14
Ball State 41 ... Toledo 20
Ball State broke open a tight game with 28 unanswered points on two one-yard Nate Davis touchdown runs, and 35-yard Dante Love scoring grab, and a one-yard Chris Clancy run. The Toledo offense cranked out 17 first quarter points helped by a six-yard Jalen Parmele run and a nine-yard Nick Moore catch, but Ball State stayed alive with a 27-yard touchdown grab from Darius Hill and a 39-yard scoring catch from Love. After a Toledo field goal, the Ball State defense put the clamps down on the Rocket offense led by Alex Knipp, who made 15 tackles with an interception. Greg Hay made 16 stops for the Rockets.
Player of the game: Ball State WR Dante Love caught five passes for 128 yards and two touchdowns
Stat Leaders: Ball State - Passing: Nate Davis, 14-20, 265 yds, 3 TD
Rushing: Chris Clancy, 13-103, 1 TD. Receiving: Darius Hill, 6-91, 1 TD
Toledo - Passing: Aaron Opelt,  20-30, 203 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Jalen Parmele, 24-123, 1 TD. Receiving: Stephen Williams, 9-135

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ...
Where the heck did Chris Clancy come from? With 13 carries for 103 yards and a touchdown against Toledo, the Cardinals found another rushing weapon to help Frank Edmonds against Northern Illinois in the finale with a chance to see a 13th game with a win. Give credit to the Cardinal defense for adjusting after the first quarter, not allowing many deep balls from the Rocket passing game, and for keeping Jalen Parmele under wraps after a hot start. Nate Davis got a great game out of Dante Love and Darius Hill, who each made key catches to make the game a rout.

Nov. 3
Indiana 38 ... Ball State 20
In a shootout with the two teams combining for 699 passing yards, Kellen Lewis threw two touchdown passes to James Hardy, from 20 and four yards out, and two to Ray Fisher, from 60 and 25 yards, out, but it was an errant throw that turned the game around. With the game tied at ten, IU's Chris Phillips took a Nate Davis pass 58 yards for a touchdown, and the Hoosiers stayed ahead from then on. Davis threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to Daniel Ifft, and Chris Clancy ran for a four yard score for the Cardinals.
Player of the game: Indiana QB Kellen Lewis completed 22 of 35 passes for 354 yards and four touchdowns with an interception, and ran ten times for 52 yards
Stat Leaders: Ball State - Passing: Nate Davis, 26-48, 332 yds, 1 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Chris Clancy, 9-29, 1 TD. Receiving: Dante Love, 14-177
Indiana - Passing: Kellen Lewis, 22-35, 354 yds, 4 TD, 1 INT
Kellen Lewis, 10-52. Receiving: James Hardy, 8-116, 2 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ...
BSU bombed away well with Indiana, but two interceptions, including the pick six, and not enough rushing production proved to be a problem. When the Hoosiers started to get on a roll, the Cardinal passing game didn't do enough to control the game, and didn't do nearly enough to control the clock until the fourth quarter. The offense had better get ready to gear it up again with a track meet against Toledo coming up..

Oct. 20
Ball State 27 ... Western Michigan 23
Ball State went 79 yards in nine plays, capped off by a one-yard Frank Edmonds touchdown run with 1:09 to play, to get the win. Western Michigan got three Mike Jones field goals a one-yard Tim Hiller touchdown run, and a 50-yard scoring pass to Jordan White, but Ball State kept pace with Nate Davis touchdown passes from 34 and 44 yards out, along with Jake Hogue field goals, until the final drive. The two teams combined for 15 penalties.
Player of the game: Ball State QB Nate Davis completed 25 of 48 passes for 358 yards and two touchdowns
Stat Leaders: Ball State - Passing: Nate Davis, 25-48, 358 yds, 2 TD
Rushing: Frank Edmonds, 9-41, 1 TD. Receiving: Dante Love, 11-101
Western Michigan - Passing: Tim Hiller, 21-38, 237 yds, 1 TD, 3 INT
Brandon West, 21-171. Receiving: Jamarko Simmons, 9-110

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Ball State might not be in the MAC title race after losing to Western Michigan a few weeks ago, but the win over Western Michigan was vital to keeping bowl hopes alive. This was a bigger, more clutch win than it might appear, considering it was the first of a brutal finishing kick with four road games in the final five, and trips to Illinois and Indiana ahead. Nate Davis is hot again, and he needs to be ready to bomb away to keep pace with the Illini and Hoosiers. The BSU run defense isn't even close to doing anything right at the moment.

Oct. 13
Ball State 35 ... Western Kentucky 12
Ball State used three interceptions to help keep WKU off the board in the second half, while the offense got two one-yard Frank Edmonds touchdown runs and a 41-yard Louis Johnson scoring grab to pull away. Johnson started off the scoring with a 21-yard catch, and the Cardinals got up for good on a 40-yard Dante Love touchdown, but WKU made it interesting with 12 second quarter points.  The Hilltoppers outgained BSU 411 yards to 363.
Player of the game: Ball State QB Nate Davis completed 21 of 31 passes for 288 yards and three touchdowns with an interception.
Stat Leaders: Western Kentucky - Passing: K.J. Black, 20-29, 184 yds, 1 TD, 3 INT
Rushing: Tyrell Hayden, 24-91. Receiving: Curtis Hamilton, 8-83, 1 TD
Ball State - Passing: Nate Davis, 21-31, 288 yds, 3 TD, 1 INT
Frank Edmonds, 16-48, 2 TD. Receiving: Dante Love, 6-91, 1 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... It's always nice to go through the motions and get the win, and thanks to the defense against WKU, that's what the offense was able to do. No, the D wasn't a brick wall, allowing 222 rushing yards and 189 though the air, but it came up with the three picks needed to stop any momentum shifts, and the offense took advantage. Nate Davis was good, but he's had two games in a row when he hasn't bombed away. He'll have to bomb away against Western Michigan next week.

Oct. 6
Central Michigan 58 ... Ball State 38
Dan LeFevour accounted for 506 yards of total offense as CMU ripped apart Ball State for 658 yards in a breathtaking performance.
The Chippewas got up 14-0 on touchdown runs from Justin Hoskins and Antonio Brown, but Ball State answered with a 100-yard Dante Love kickoff return for a score. And then LeFevour went to work, throwing two second quarter touchdown passes, and then connected with Bryan Anderson on scoring strikes from 39 and 24 yards out to break the game open early in the third. Ball State stayed alive with a one-yard Koreen Burch touchdown run, and a 22-yard Darius Hill scoring grab, but CMU pulled away with ease on a 15-play, 80-yard drive finishing up with a one-yard LeFevour scoring run.
Player of the game: Central Michigan QB Dan LeFevour went 30-of-38 for 360 yards, five touchdowns and an interception, rushing for 146 yards and a score on 16 carries.
Stat Leaders: Central Michigan - Passing: Dan LeFevour, 30-38, 360 yds, 5 TDs, 1 INT
Rushing: Dan LeFevour, 16-146, 1 TD. Receiving: Bryan Anderson, 10-154, 2 TDs
Ball State - Passing: Nate Davis, 16-35, 204 yds, 1 TD
Koreen Burch, 17-67, 1 TD. Receiving: Darius Hill, 4-63, 1 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ...
Ball State never got into any sort of a groove against Central Michigan, getting its doors blown off before it knew what happened. Nate Davis wasn't Nate Davis, struggling to push the ball deep, failing to find the open man often enough, and failing to move the chains early on. Central Michigan appeared to be a team on a mission, and BSU simply had to deal with an all-timer of a performance from Dan LeFevour, and a phenomenal game from the defending champions.

Sept. 29
Ball State 49 ... Buffalo 14
Ball State rolled out 507 yards of total offense, and got out to a 35-0 lead, with Darius Hill catching two touchdown passes and Dante Love each scoring twice. Frank Edmonds started off the scoring with a one-yard touchdown run, and finished it off with a one-yard score for the Cardinals. Buffalo only managed 219 yards of total offense and two short James Starks touchdown runs.
Player of the game: Ball State QB Nate Davis finished 21-of-29 for 233 yards and three touchdowns, running for 44 yards on five carries.
Stat Leaders: Buffalo - Passing: Drew Willy, 14-19, 136 yds, 1 INT
Rushing: James Starks, 19-47, 2 TDs. Receiving: Naam Roosevelt, 5-44
Ball State - Passing: Nate Davis, 21-29, 233 yds, 3 TDs
Frank Edmonds, 24-126, 2 TDs. Receiving: Darius Hill, 6-80, 2 TDs

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Forget about any sort of a letdown after the Nebraska near-miss. Ball State played like a living, breathing MAC title contender with the thumping of Buffalo, getting yet another terrific passing day from Nate Davis, and good running from Frank Edmonds, in place of a banged up MiQuale Lewis. Now comes the real test, needing to beat Central Michigan to truly declare itself a legitimate player in the conference race.

Sept. 22
Nebraska 41 ... Ball State 40
Nebraska's record-setting offensive day almost went for naught as Ball State had a last-second field goal attempt to win the game, but Jake Hogue's 55-yard field goal attempt want wide left to give the Huskers the win. It was close, as BSU just missed on what would've been a sure touchdown pass to go for the field goal attempt. The Cardinals got up 37-28 in the fourth quarter on the third Nate Davis touchdown pass of the day, going 21 yards to Madaris Grant. The Huskers got back in it on a 34-yard Bo Ruud interception return for a score, and later went ahead for good on a 11-yard Maurice Purify touchdown catch. The Husker offense got 398 passing yards from Sam Keller, highlighted by a 73-yard scoring pass to Sean Hill, but Ball State's Davis was even better, connecting with Dante Love for a 58-yards score and Darius Hill for a 20-yard touchdown. In all the two teams combined for 1,162 yards of total offense.
Player of the game ... Nebraska QB Sam Keller completed 36 of 54 passes for 438 yards and three touchdowns with an interception.
Stat Leaders: Nebraska - Passing: Sam Keller, 36-54, 438 yds, 3 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Marlon Lucky, 21-102, 1 TD  Receiving: Marlon Lucky, 11-81
Ball State - Passing: Nate Davis, 26-43, 422 yds, 3 TD, 1 INT
MiQuale Lewis, 19-122, 1 TD   Receiving:
Dante Love, 10-214, 1 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Last year Ball State almost beat Michigan, and now there's the near-miss against Nebraska. Now, why aren't the Cardinals expected to be bigger players in the MAC race? If the offense hums like it did this week, it'll roll over the next three weeks against Buffalo, Central Michigan and Western Kentucky, but it has to be consistent. There's no one left on the schedule who can light things up like Nebraska did this week, so the BSU offense should be able to outbomb everyone.

Sept. 15
Ball State 34 ... Navy 31 OT
After two big Navy mistakes, Jake Hogue nailed a 24-yard field goal attempt to give Ball State the thrilling win. Brandon Crawford, a 31-year-old Marine, blocked a 32-yard Navy field goal attempt to force the game into overtime, and on Navy's possession, Jarod Bryant lost a fumble on its first play. The two teams traded scores all game long, with Nate Davis throwing three touchdown passes and running for a fourth, while Navy's running game went wild. Helped by an 80-yard touchdown dash from
Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada, who also added a one-yard scoring run, and a 71-yard run from Eric Kettani, Navy tore off 537 rushing yards. Ball State's MiQuale Lewis ran for 161 yards and helped tie the game with a 12-yard touchdown catch late in the fourth.
Player of the game: Ball State QB Nate Davis completed 19 of 33 passes for 277 yards and three touchdowns with an interception, and ran three times for 22 yards and a score
Stat Leaders: Ball State - Passing: Nate Davis, 19-33, 277 yds, 3 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: MiQuale Lewis, 27-161. Receiving: Dante Love, 6-91, 1 TD
Navy - Passing: Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada, 3-7, 51 yds
Eric Kettani, 9-126, 2 TD. Receiving: Shun White, 2-45

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Ball State's defense and special teams came though against Navy when they absolutely needed to. The run defense didn't have a prayer against the Midshipman attack, but the BSU offensive balance kept the game even all game long, with Nate Davis and MiQuale Lewis putting on a fantastic show. This was a road win over a team that'll end up going to a bowl, and it was the type of win that showed why Ball State is now going to be more of a player in the MAC race.

Sept. 8
Ball State 38 ... Eastern Michigan 16
Ball State got four Nate Davis touchdown passes with three going to Dante Love on the way to an easy win. EMU had several chances to get into the game, but 24-pound run ended any hopes. The Eagles got a 67-yard touchdown catch from DeAnthony White and a 90-yard kickoff return for a score in the fourth quarter following a 27-yard Love scoring grab. 
Player of the game: Ball State QB Nate Davis threw for 306 yards and four touchdowns on 19-of-38 passing.
Stat Leaders: Ball State
- Passing: Nate Davis, 19-38, 306 yds, 4 TDs
Rushing: MiQuale Lewis, 21-73, 1 TD. Receiving: Dante Love, 7-114, 2 TDs
Eastern Michigan
- Passing: Andy Schmitt, 16-24, 155 yds, 1 TDs
Rushing: Pierre Walker, 15-65. Receiving: DeAnthony White, 7-94, 1 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... The Cardinals did a great job of never letting Eastern Michigan in the game. Nate Davis seemingly hit every third down conversion (with the Cardinal converting 11 of 20), but the big key was the offense's ability to hold on to the ball late. When you control the clock for 13:16 in the fourth quarter, and 22:04 in the second half, you're going to win a lot of games. Not turning the ball over was a big plus; BSU never gave EMU the big break.

Aug. 30
Miami University 14 ... Ball State 13
Miami won on Brandon Murphy's six-yard run with 17 seconds to play to pull out a tough game. Murphy got the RedHawks first score in the second quarter on a 21-yard run, but Ball State took the lead in the second half on a 22-yard field goal and a 23-yard Dante Love catch. Eugene Harris set up the game winning score on a 56-yard punt return, and finished with 100 yards on three returns for the game.
Player of the game: Miami RB Brandon Murphy ran 19 times for 123 yards and two touchdowns and caught a pass for 17 yards
Stat Leaders: Miami - Passing: Mike Kokal, 14-24, 118 yds, 2 INT
Rushing: Brandon Murphy, 19-123-2 TD. Receiving: Dustin Woods, 5-46
Ball State - Passing: Nate Davis, 19-36, 198 yds, 1 TD
MiQuale Lewis, 25-91. Receiving: Dante Love, 8-80, 1 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Ball State has to quickly get over the crushing loss to Miami with three straight road trips ahead. Nate Davis was fine, but he wasn't fantastic and didn't do enough to keep the offense moving in the second half. MiQuale Lewis provided some balance with a decent day on the ground, but he only averaged 3.6 yards per carry. Chris Miller had a fantastic day punting the ball averaging 44.4 yards per kick while putting three inside the 20.

Aug. 30 - Miami University
Offense: It's all about the offensive line. The front five was hit by injuries last season and the whole machine broke down with no running game, an obscene amount of sacks, and not enough of a passing game. Now the line is experienced with decent depth, the running backs should be solid as long as Brandon Murphy is over his ankle problems, and Mike Kokal has the potential to be the MAC's most effective all-around quarterback. And then there's the receiving corps. With Ryne Robinson gone, there's no proven number one receiver, but there's a boatload of speed on the outside in Dustin Woods and Armand Robinson. While they'll make big plays, someone has to become a go-to guy.
Defense: There were huge concerns about the defense going into last season with only two returning starters, but the lumps taken against the run and against way too many mediocre offenses should pay off in a return to the days when MU had one of the MAC's best defenses. While just six starters are back, there are more than enough promising options at several positions to create good overall competition and have more depth than there's been in a long time. The pass rush needs to be better with Craig Mester needing to get back to form to help out junior end Joe Coniglio. Joey Hudson and Clayton Mullins form one of the MAC's best 1-2 linebacking punches, while the secondary should be one of the team's strengths led by speedy corner Jerrid Gaines and veteran safety Robbie Wilson.

Sept. 8 – at Eastern Michigan
Offense: EMU's defense hasn't been productive in years, but if there's not a major improvement this year with ten starters returning along with a slew of experienced depth, it might never happen. Junior Daniel Holtzclaw is a superstar middle linebacker who'll be the one the rest of the defense revolves around. Tackles Jason Jones and Josh Hunt can't stop the run, but they're regulars in opposing backfields. As long as the corners and ends start to produce, and the experience and quickness at all spots makes up for a general lack of size, things should be better after finishing 116th in the nation against run and 98th in total defense.
Defense: New offensive coordinator Scott Ispohording has his work cut out for him despite getting seven starters back along with a ton of experienced depth. The supposed wide-open offense was awful with no ground game from the running backs and even less of a passing attack with quarterbacks Andy Schmitt and Tyler Jones basically running, running and running some more. The line should be better with three returning starters and a decent interior, but the offense won't go anywhere unless Pierre Walker, or possible Jones, turns into a reliable tailback. The loss of top receiver Eric Deslauriers means the passing game will be spread out among several options with the hope for former quarterback Dontayo Gage to turn into a true number one.

Sept. 15 – at Navy
Offense: Navy led the nation in rushing in 2005, led the nation in rushing in 2006, and will lead the nation in rushing in 2007. What's the difference? The ground game will be terrific as always, but now it'll be truly special with the best combination of backfield talent and experience head coach Paul Johnson has ever had. There won't be any passing game, but it won't matter with a ground attack that can crank out a big run from anywhere on the field. The big concern will be the line with no experience among the backups whatsoever and a shaky starting five if left tackle Josh Meek's injured knee isn't healthy.
Uh oh. Wholesale changes need to be made with only three starters and seven lettermen returning. The best defense will be a good offense needing the ground game to crank out long drives to keep this inexperienced, woefully undersized, untested group off the field. Pass rushers need to emerge with the hope for Chris Kuhar-Pitters and Casey Hebert to turn into playmakers around rising star tackle Nate Frazier. Clint Sovie and Irv Spencer will turn into reliable inside linebackers, but outside linebacker will be a question. The secondary will be a work in progress around solid corner Rashawn King.

Sept. 22 – at Nebraska
Offense: From possibly losing star receiver Maurice Purify for being a knucklehead off the field, to losing leading rusher Brandon Jackson to the NFL, promising runner Kenny Wilson to a broken leg while moving a TV, and starting guard Matt Huff to a blown out Achilles (though he might be back), it's been a rough off-season for the offense. Even with all the problems, the offense will roll if, and it's a screaming if, the once-promising tackle prospects come through and the starting 11 stays healthy. Top back Marlon Lucky can't be counted on for a full season, while backup Cody Glenn is already hobbling with a foot problem. There's no one of note behind them. The line had to do some shuffling after a variety of injuries, meaning the ground game could struggle at times. Fortunately, former Arizona State mad bomber Sam Keller is at the helm with a speedy, veteran receiving corps to work with. Don't be shocked if the attack becomes one-dimensional at some point this year. That might not be a bad thing.
Defense: Defensive coordinator Kevin Cosgrove is about throwing different looks at offenses over the last few years, and while he loses all four starters off a great front four, he has more talent and depth to work with. The strength is in the linebacking corps, where Bo Ruud, Corey McKeon, Steve Octavien and Lance Brandenburgh will control the defense. There's speed to burn in the secondary, but the defensive backs haven't played up to their potential or athleticism over the last few years. This will be one of the Big 12's better defenses, but it still might not be close to the killer of some of the great Husker teams of the past.

Sept. 29 - Buffalo
Offense: The overall offensive production improved from ten points per game to 18.33. Now the attack has to be more consistent and explosive, and that all comes from the offensive line. It's a big, experienced line that has to give the promising skill players a chance to do their thing. UB can win with QB Drew Willy and RB James Starks, but they haven't had any chance to show what they can do with no time or room to work. Naaman Roosevelt has to be used somewhere. If he's not the starting quarterback, he'll provide a boost to a mediocre receiving corps.
Defense: Last year was a big transition year with several young players getting time as the scheme was switched from a 4-2-5 to a 4-3. Size is sacrificed for speed almost everyone, but there are big backups at tackle. Now the production against the run has to be better. Getting into the backfield won't be an issue as UB could be among the MAC's leaders in sacks and tackles for loss led by senior Trevor Scott on the end. The secondary has the potential to be far better if safeties Kareem Byrom and Mike Newton, along with rising corner Kendric Hawkins, can spend all their time trying to make plays against the pass instead of always having to deal with the run.

Oct. 6 - Central Michigan
Defense: Statistically, the defense struggled throughout last year. Actually, it wasn't that bad as many of the numbers came when the game was already decided. This year's D doesn't have a Dan Bazuin up front, but it has Steven Friend leading a group of good tackles, while there should be a good rotation of ends. The linebacking corps gets better with Ike Brown back from the knee injury that cost him almost all of last year, while the secondary gets three starters back, along with promising corner Chaz West. This won't be a rock of a defense, but it'll be good enough to win another title with.
Offense: Thanks to the emergence of quarterback Dan LeFevour, the offense went from decent to ultra-efficient, leading the MAC in yards and scoring. The passing game became fantastic, and the ground game, while not always getting enough from the backs, hit home run after home run. Now there will be more running from the backs, especially Ontario Sneed and Notre Dame transfer Justin Hoskins, and less running from LeFevour. The receiving corps is good enough for LeFevour to spread the ball around to several different targets. The line won't be as good as last year, after losing two key starters, but it'll be fine.

Oct. 13 – Western Kentucky

Oct. 20 – at Western Michigan
Offense: The parts are there, and now the production has to come. The offensive line, led by center Robbie Krutilla and three other starters, will be one of the best in the MAC, and it should give the quarterback all the time in the world. Now the question is who that'll be. Thomas Peregrin and Tim Hiller will each likely see time this year, and either one can be a star. The receiving corps will be serviceable, and it needs tight end Branden Ledbetter to grow into an even more prominent target, and has to hope several speedy newcomers can play right away, for more pop. Mark Bonds is a steady 1,000-yard back who'll combine with Brandon West for a nice 1-2 punch. Everything's in place. There's no excuse for the attack to be as average as it was last year.
Offense: It's not a big D, but it's very quick, very disruptive, and very good. After a big year, the MAC's number one defense gets eight starters back. The line will get in the backfield early and often with the return of Zach Davidson and big-play tackles Nick Varcadipane and Cory Flom. The secondary is loaded with speed and experience with all four starters returning after helping the D pick off 24 passes. The big concern is at outside linebacker after losing Ameer Ismail and Paul Tithof, but Austin Pritchard is a rising star and Dustin Duclo is good in the middle.

Oct. 27 – at Illinois
Has there ever been so much of a buzz for an offense that's done absolutely nothing? Juice Williams led the way to the nation's most inefficient passing attack, the O struggled to average 20 points a game, and never, ever came up with a clutch play. Chalk it up to youth, but this year's offense is still insanely young, and getting younger with the best receiver, Arrelious Bean, a true freshman. Even so, all will be fine as long as the starting 11 stays healthy. If injuries strike, things will go in the tank with no one to rely on behind Williams, no solid number two running back behind home-run hitter Rashard Mendenhall, and little developed depth behind an average line with four starters returning.
Defense: The defense never got any credit for a not-that-bad season. It was good at not giving up long drives or tons of yards, but it never, ever, ever came through with a key stop. How strange was the Illini D? It was 33rd in the nation allowing 310 yards per game, but allowed 26.75 points per game. This was going to be a good defense returning with J Leman tackling everything in sight at middle linebacker and Chris Norwell staring at tackle, and now there's actual talent to get excited about with the addition of mega-star recruits D'Angelo McCray on the line and Martez Wilson at linebacker. It'll be an interesting mix of good senior veterans and more talented underclassmen.

Nov. 3 – at Indiana
Offense: The IU spread offense has the pieces in place with rising star quarterback Kellen Lewis about to come into his own as a leader, and a good receiving corps to put up big numbers, led by James Hardy. There's speed at running back, but Marcus Thigpen and Demetrius McCray have to be more productive. The X factor is the line, which the late Terry Hoeppner did a great job of putting together in the 2006 recruiting class. Rodger Saffold and Pete Saxon are just two who should upgrade the front.
Defense: The IU defense has struggled over the last few years to slow anyone down, but now the youth movement should produce results. The goal is to bend but not break, and now there has to be less breaking. It's still a young overall group, but there's experience and potential, especially at corner where Tracy Porter and Leslie Majors should be among the Big Ten's best. There's little proven pass rush up front, while the linebacking corps is small and quick by design.

Nov. 13 - Toledo
Offense: Injuries hit the offensive line last year and killed the production and the consistency. With John Greco back at left tackle and a slew of big redshirt freshmen, the front five should be better and could be fantastic is David Perkins and Jerry Aguwa return to their pre-injury form. The spread offense should improve with quarterback Aaron Opelt looking better and Clint Cochran healthy again after a knee problem. The receiving corps is big, fast, and so far, disappointing. That could quickly change considering all the interesting targets. Jalen Parmele and DaJuane Collins form a good 1-2 rushing punch that needs to stay healthy with the off-the-field issues of Richard Davis and Scooter McDougle.
Defense: Defensive coordinator Tim Rose has done a good job over the last two years using a flexible 3-4 alignment that occasionally morphs into a 4-2-5. Now it has to be better after getting bombed on by everyone over the first half of last year and only produced once the schedule lightened up. Seven starters return along with plenty of depth, especially up front, and now there have to be more big plays and more pressure into the backfield. Greg Hay and Keith Forestal form a strong 1-2 linebacking punch, while the safety tandem of Tyrrell Herbert and Barry Church is among the best in the MAC.

Nov. 24 – at Northern Illinois
Offense: New offensive coordinator Roy Wittke will put his stamp on the attack early on with more passing plays, more variety, and more funky motions and formations. That'll all mean more from the passing game, and while it wasn't ignored last year, it was mostly used when Garrett Wolfe was either tired or shut down. Six starters return, but this is still a young group with only two seniors on the depth chart. The line was a problem this spring, but it's very big with the potential to be great ... next year. There will be a steady rotation of backs, led mostly by Montell Clanton and Justin Anderson, and more passes spread around, with Britt Davis the number one target. Dan Nicholson has to be a steady leader of the show.
Defense: The NIU defense is steady with several good, sound players, but for all the quickness and all the athleticism, there weren't nearly enough big plays, not enough production from the secondary, and a good, but not great, year against the run. While the corners will be better, expect more of the same from the front seven; for good and bad. End Larry English and tackle Craig Rusch will be regulars in the backfield. This won't be the nation's 90th ranked defense again, and it'll do a good job of bending, but not breaking.



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