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2008 Ball State Preview - Offense
Ball State WR Dante Love
Ball State WR Dante Love
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Apr 18, 2008


CollegeFootballNews.com 2008 Preview - Ball State Cardinal Offense

Ball State Cardinals

Preview 2008 - Offense

- 2008 Ball State Preview | 2008 Ball State Offense
- 2008 Ball State Defense | 2008 Ball State Depth Chart
- 2007 CFN Ball State Preview | 2006 CFN Ball State Preview 

What you need to know:
Nine starters return to an explosive offense that should be the most talented in the MAC. QB Nate Davis, TE Darius Hill, WR Dante Love and OT Robert Brewster are all NFL prospects who might be the best in the league at their respective positions, while there are great role players to fill in the rest of the gaps. The running game improved last year and should be even better if RB MiQuale Lewis is over his torn ACL. The only problem is the lack of a power round game with three very small, very quick backs to work with. In a pinch, the offense will always rely on Davis, Love and Hill to come up with the big plays. That's not necessarily a bad thing.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Nate Davis
270-478, 3,667 yds, 30 TD, 6 INT
Rushing: Frank Edmonds
140 carries, 531 yds, 6 TD
Receiving: Dante Love
100 catches, 1,398 yds, 10 TD

Star of the offense: Junior QB Nate Davis
Player who has to step up and become a star: Redshirt freshman G Kreg Hunter
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore WR Daniel Ifft
Best pro prospect: Senior TE Darius Hill
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Davis, 2) WR Dante Love, 3) Hill
Strength of the offense: Experience, Davis
Weakness of the offense:
Power running, backup offensive line

Quarterbacks

Projected Starter: It's salary drive time for junior Nate Davis, who has the eyes of the NFL scouts trained on Muncie to see if he's worthy of a possible early pick next year. Of course, that would mean Davis would have to come out early, and if he has another year like 2007, he might be nuts not to after throwing for 3,667 yards with 30 touchdowns and six interceptions. While he was ultra-productive and kept the interceptions to a minimum, he could stand to be more accurate, completing just 57% of his passes, but that's nitpicking considering the other numbers he puts up. At 6-2 and 217 pounds he has decent size, but not elite, NFL height, and he's a good runner with 235 yards and five touchdowns last season.

Projected Top Reserves: Junior Tanner Justice is a walk-on with good smarts and decent 6-3, 196-pound size. He's a decent runner who scored a touchdown in his limited work, and he completed three of his four passes in mop-up duty. He has been around long enough to know what he's doing, but there's a huge, gaping drop-off from Davis to the No. 2.

6-1, 222-pound sophomore Perci Garner is an interesting option with good rushing skills and a live arm. It'll be his job to show that he can be the quarterback of the near future if Davis leaves early, and he should make a good push for the main backup gig.

Watch Out For ... Davis to leave after this year. He doesn't have the biggest arm and he doesn't have prototype size, but in a bad year for quarterback prospects, it might be too tempting to leave early.
Strength
:
Davis. Ball State is decent, but it's hardly special. Davis makes the team a contender against everyone. When he's on, like he was in the loss to Nebraska, the Cardinals can hang in every game.
Weakness
:
The backups. Ball State doesn't get NFL caliber quarterback talent every day, and while Davis is a star, there's a huge, screaming question mark among the reserves. Justice would be serviceable in a starting role, but he's not Davis.
Outlook: Davis might be the MAC's best player, even with Dan LeFevour still operating under center at Central Michigan. Good enough to carry the team to the MAC title, Davis will be one of the league's shining stars from day one. He has some big expectations to fill, and he can't press to try to live up to the hype.
Rating: 8


Running Backs

Projected Starter: Junior MiQuale Lewis started out the season on fire with a 161-yard day against Navy and 122 yards against Nebraska as he amassed 447 yards and two touchdowns, along with 11 catches for 154 yards and a score, in the first four games, and then he tore his ACL and was out for the year. At just 5-6 and 184 pounds, durability is always going to be an issue. He got banged up two years ago with a shoulder injury that knocked him out for the season after just six games. When healthy, he's a quick, dangerous back who'll be a major factor in both the running and passing games.


Projected Top Reserves: With Lewis out, sophomore Frank Edmonds stepped in and finished as the team's leading rusher with 531 yards and six touchdowns, along with 13 catches for 106 yards. At 5-8 and 181 pounds, he's a speed back who showed a little bit of burst, but he didn't tear off many big runs. A star Ohio high school sprinter, he needs to do more when he gets into open space.

After a terrific spring, 5-7, 155-pound true freshman Cory Sykes quickly showed he's ready to work in the rotation. Lightning fast with excellent moves, he might turn out to be the No. 2 option sooner than later.

Watch Out For ... Sykes. While Sykes isn't Lewis, he's a smaller version who can dart in and out of traffic without a problem and isn't bad for the passing game. He could quickly turn into a specialist who handles the ball in some way ten times a game.
Strength
:
Quickness. The Cardinals have three lightning-quick backs who can bust out a big play at any time. They're hard to find in and out of traffic, and they're not bad in the passing game.
Weakness
:
Power. There isn't any. This was a huge problem at times last year as the offense had to stick to a finesse running game and the passing attack to keep moving. If the Cardinals need a hard yard, it isn't coming.
Outlook: The Cardinals went from 106th in the nation in rushing to 61st even with Nate Davis winging the ball all over the place. If Lewis is healthy, there could be even better balance. Edmonds is fine, but he didn't quite break out as a true freshman like some thought he would. Sykes will be an interesting option adding more speed to the mix. Unfortunately, there's no power whatsoever.
Rating: 6

Receivers

Projected Starters: The MAC's best passing game over the last two years gets all the stars back, and more. Leading the way is pass-catching machine Dante Love, a 5-10, 179-pound senior who followed up a nice 52-catch campaign with a powerhouse 100-grab, 1398-yards, ten touchdown season. He saved his best for the big teams catching a total of 37 passes for 560 yards and two touchdowns against Nebraska, Indiana and Rutgers, and he went over the 100-yard mark in five of his final six games. Tremendously quick, he went from being a solid possession receiver to a major playmaker.

While the NFL scouts will be keeping a close eye on Nate Davis, tight end Darius Hill could turn out to be the better pro prospect. With 118 career catches for 1,803 yards and 23 touchdowns, he's a proven weapon, and at 6-6 and a beefed up 236 pounds, he has good size with excellent athleticism. While he's not a power blocker, he's a matchup nightmare as a receiver becoming more consistent and more dangerous, especially in the red zone, catching 11 touchdown passes last year.

Working on the other side of Love is the breakthrough star of the spring, 6-3, 181-pound sophomore Daniel Ifft. An afterthought in the attack last year with just nine catches for 83 yards and a touchdown, he caught everything thrown his way and turned into a fantastic route runner as the third target in the mix, with all the attention paid to Hill and Love.

Working on the inside as a second tight end/third receiver will be Madaris Grant, a 6-5, 222-pound junior who caught 12 passes for 119 yards and a touchdown. A decent blocker, his job is to catch the ball, and with his athleticism and potential to stretch the field, he should do far more this year.


Projected Top Reserves: Senior Chris Clancy spent last year as a running back finishing third on the team with 229 yards and two touchdowns, and a nice 6.4-yard average, but with a logjam in the backfield, he moved to tight end where he'll serve as a big receiver behind Grant. At 6-2 and 231 pounds, he has good size and nice speed.

Forgotten last year, 6-1, 177-pound senior Louis Johnson finished third on the team in receptions but caught just 17 balls for 322 yards and three touchdowns. On the plus side, he was a big-time home run hitter averaging 24.8 yards per catch. He had problems early on with a knee injury, a partially torn ACL, but he blew up as the year went on and now will be the third wide receiver in the rotation.

Watch Out For ... Ifft, He was having a good spring, and then he was fantastic in the spring game as he secured a starting spot going into fall. He'll see a ton of single coverage and he'll have to take advantage.
Strength
:
Love and Hill. These two haven't been at Ball State for nine years, but it seems that way. These two are as dangerous a tandem as any in the MAC, and they'll soon be getting long looks in an NFL camp. They should combine for close to 175 catches.
Weakness
:
Proven production from anyone other than Love and Hill. 273 passes were caught last season and 165 of them came from Love and Hill. The No. 3 receiver, Johnson, caught 17 passes. There might not be much of a need to spread it around, but it would be nice if more targets got involved.
Outlook: Everything worked last year, and the corps should be better this season. A home-run hitter was needed, and Johnson eventually stepped up. Hill needed to be more consistent after disappearing too often in 2006, and he was. And then there was Love, who went from a nice uber-possession receiver into a deadly mid-range-to-deep threat. With the emergence of Ifft and the return of Grant, this will be the MAC's deadliest corps.
Rating: 7.5

Offensive Linemen

Projected Starters: The only new starter to the mix will be 6-3, 284-pound redshirt freshman Kreg Hunter at right guard. A tough, strong mauler, he isn't a massive inside presence, but he should handle himself fine by beating up defensive linemen.

The anchor and star of the line is senior right tackle Robert Brewster, a 6-5, 310-pound first team All-MAC performer who started every game last year and grew into the star he was expected to become. After starting out as a mushy freshman, he hit the weight room, dropped about 20 pounds, and turned into a special blocker.

Growing into his own at left tackle, senior Andre Ramsey had a good year
when healthy, but he missed time in the middle of the season allowing big John Purdy, who ended up transferring, to step in. Now the 6-5, 304-pounder should be a rock after improving by leaps and bounds in each of the last three years.

Working again in the middle is 6-3, 292-pound senior Dan Gerberry, a solid long-time starter who has been a good, consistent blocker who's as dependable as they come. A good pass blocker, his real worth is as the quarterback up front; he knows exactly what he's doing.

6-5, 277-pound sophomore Michael Switzer is a bit light at left guard, but he makes up for it with his athleticism. He stepped in and started every game as a true freshman, and while he might eventually move outside to tackle, he should be solid with a year of experience under his belt to work off of.


Projected Top Reserves: 6-9, 284-pound sophomore Travis Arnold was given the first shot at guard last year before getting beaten out, and now he'll spend more time at a natural tackle position. With his frame and long arms, he's great at keeping pass rushers at bay. He'll start out behind Brewster on the right side.

Working again in the guard mix is senior Kyle Cornwell, who came back from a knee injury and played through most of the season at less than 100%. Able to play either guard spot, the 6-4, 272-pound former tight end will push for time behind Hunter on the right side.

One of the team's most versatile backup options is 6-6, 278-pound senior Adam Cole, who can play either spot on the left side. A true backup, he's a reliable veteran who should be a decent part-time helper.

Watch Out For ... more for the running game. With a veteran crew, and good running backs waiting to do more, the BSU line should be able to pound away a bit more.
Strength
:
Experience. The program took a hit three years ago when playing several freshmen two years ago, struggled through the problems, and now it's all paying off with, technically, five returning starters. As long as everyone stays healthy, this should be one of the MAC's best all-around lines.
Weakness
:
Guard size. The transfer of the massive John Purdy took away a big body out of the interior. It's not a bad thing for pass protection to have slightly undersized guards, but the Cardinal starters aren't going to blast anyone off the ball on a consistent basis on girth.
Outlook: The line took a major step forward last year, and with four starters back, along with Cornwell, this is a veteran group that should give the good skill players all the time they need to work. Brewster is a star to work around, while Hunter and Switzer are rising rocks who'll be a main part of the mix for the next few years.
Rating: 6

  

Related Stories
2008 CFN Ball State Preview
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Apr 18, 2008
2008 Ball State Preview - Defense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Apr 18, 2008
Class of '07 to help Ball State defense
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