2008 Ball State Preview - Offense
Ball State WR Dante Love
CollegeFootballNews.com 2008 Preview - Ball State Cardinal Offense
Ball State Cardinals
Preview 2008 - Offense
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2008 Ball State Offense
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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.
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
Power running, backup offensive line
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:
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
Offensive Linemenwhen 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.
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
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
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