2008 Ball State Preview |
2008 Ball State Offense
2008 Ball State
2008 Ball State
2007 CFN Ball State Preview |
2006 CFN Ball State
There was a stretch in the late 1980s and early 1990s when Ball
State became a solid MAC power. It cranked out winning seasons, was
in the hunt for MAC titles, winning three from 1989 to 1996, and
went to three bowl games. And then the bottom dropped out.
Head coach: Brady Hoke
6th year: 22-37
Off. 17, Def. 20, ST 4
Lettermen Lost: 14
Best Cardinal Players
1. QB Nate Davis, Jr.
2. TE Darius Hill, Sr.
3. P Chris Miller, Sr.
4. WR Dante Love, Sr.
OT Robert Brewster, Sr.
6. LB Bryant Haines, Sr.
7. DE Brandon Crawford, Jr.
8. CB B.J. Hill, Sr.
9. CB Trey Lewis, Sr.
10. RB MiQuale Lewis, Jr.
CFN Prediction: 6-6
Sept. 5 Navy
Sept. 13 at Akron
Sept. 20 at Indiana
Sept. 27 Kent State
Oct. 4 at Toledo
Oct. 11 at Western Kentucky
Oct. 18 OPEN DATE
Oct. 25 Eastern Michigan
Nov. 1 OPEN DATE
Nov. 5 Northern Illinois
Nov. 11 at Miami Univ.
Nov. 19 at Central Michigan
Nov. 25 Western Michigan
CFN Prediction: 5-7
Miami Univ. L 14-13
at East Mich
Sept. 15 at Navy W 34-31 OT
Sept. 22 at Nebraska L 41-40
Central Mich L 58-38
at West Mich
Oct. 27 at Illinois L 28-17
Nov. 3 at Indiana L 38-20
Nov. 24 at No Illinois W 27-21
Jan. 5 Rutgers L 52-30
With ten seasons in a
row without a winning campaign, won just one game between 1998 and 1999,
and always seemed to come up with a clunker just when a big performance
It's amazing what a little bit of talent can do.
Some major programs don't get more than a few players taken in a given
draft, but Ball State has seven legitimate pro prospects (QB Nate Davis,
TE Darius Hill, P Chris Miller, WR Dante Love, OT Robert Brewster, LB
Robert Brewster and DE Brandon Crawford) and a few others, like corner
B.J. Hill, good enough to potentially see time in an NFL camp. This
group led the way to a 7-6 season and an International Bowl appearance
against Rutgers, and now they'll form a base for a veteran team that
should be in the hunt for the program's biggest season since 1996.
It's not like there aren't several problems. The run defense has been
non-existent over the past few years, and it should struggle this season
thanks to some woefully undersized tackles. The secondary, while
promising, has little safety depth and needs to prevent the big play,
and there's no power running game whatsoever. Even so, because of the
stars at the top, Ball State will be in the thick of the MAC title
If nothing else, the offense should be able to bomb its way to wins with
Davis, Love and Hill forming one of the nation's most efficient passing
attacks, while there should be more from the running game with three
very small, but extremely quick backs to work around. The defense won't
be a brick wall, but it'll be full of veterans.
Enjoy it now, because almost all the stars will be gone next year,
including Davis, if he chooses to leave early. It should be a fun ride
before the rebuilding has to be done.
What to watch for on offense:
Davis to be even better. With all his weapons back, a strong line to
operate behind, and the emergence of Daniel Ifft as a new dangerous
target, Davis should improve on his tremendous 2007 numbers. 4,000 yards
and 40 touchdowns aren't unattainable goals (he threw for 3,667 yards
and 30 scores last season).
What to watch for on defense: More pressure into the backfield.
That was the goal going into last year and the Cardinals stunk at
getting to the quarterback for yet another season. Crawford will do his
part at one end, but as a whole, the defense has to do far more after
struggling to come up with big plays behind the line while failing to
generate consistent pressure on the quarterback. The defense will give
up several big plays, but it'll have to make more of its own.
The team will be far better if … the run defense shows up.
The stats are a bit skewed after allowing 521 yards and four touchdowns
to Navy, but that was made up for later by holding Northern Illinois to
-1 yards on the ground. More than anything else, the Cardinals couldn't
handle the spread. Central Michigan (298 yards) and Illinois (324)
rolled at will, but teams with good ground games and good backs, like
Rutgers and Toledo, motored well, too.
The Schedule: The Cardinals have the rare MAC non-conference schedule that's
completely winnable. Consider it a major disappointment if they can't
beat Northeastern, Navy and at Western Kentucky, and with a high-powered
passing game, there's a puncher's chance of winning at Indiana. The MAC
slate is brutal with games against, arguably, the league's three best
teams (outside of BSU): Toledo, Miami and Central Michigan. Oh yeah, and
all three games are on the road with the battles with the RedHawks and
Chippewas coming in back-to-back weeks in November. On the plus side
there are two off weeks in the middle of the season to refresh and
rejuvenate before the nasty finishing kick.
Best Offensive Player:
QB Nate Davis. While the 57% completion percentage could use a boost,
Davis is as productive and efficient as any quarterback the MAC has seen
for a while. He's going to spread the ball around well to all his
weapons and he's going to lead a passing attack that can crank out 300
yards against just about anyone.
Best Defensive Player: Senior LB Bryant Haines. Extremely smart,
very tough, and with great range, Haines made 83 tackles in a breakout
freshman season, hurt his knee and made just 49 stops as a sophomore,
and then came back roaring with 125 tackles with nine tackles for loss
as a second-team All-MAC performer. He's still bulking up, and should
end up at about 230 on the weakside, and he should be one of the
league's best all-around linebackers again.
Key player to a successful season: Junior DT Drew Duffin and
sophomore NT Rene Perry. Duffin is a mere 255 pounds and Perry is just
271, but these two will have to hold tough for the nation's 106th best
run defense to improve. These two try hard and will be active, but they
can't get gouged up the middle by the power teams.
The season will be a
... the Cardinals win the MAC title. This is a once-in-a-generation team
for a program like Ball State. You don't get this many talented seniors,
and a quarterback like Davis, all that often. Anything less than a title
will be a major disappointment.
Nov. 19 at Central Michigan. It might be a loaded year for the
conference, but Ball State vs. CMU might as well be the MAC
Championship. There will be other major MAC games along the way, and a
nasty showdown against Western Michigan to close things out, but the
showdown against the Chippewas will likely be a must-win to have any
shot of winning the West.
2007 Fun Stats:
- Average yards per carry: Opponents 5 – Ball State 4.1
- Fumbles: Ball State 19 (lost 5) – Opponents 15 (lost 9)
- Interceptions thrown: Opponents 19 – Ball State 5