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2009 Ball State Preview - Offense
Ball State RB MiQuale Lewis
Ball State RB MiQuale Lewis
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted May 6, 2009


CollegeFootballNews.com 2009 Preview - Ball State Cardinal Offense

Ball State Cardinals

Preview 2009 - Offense


- 2009 Ball State Preview | 2009 Ball State Offense
- 2009 Ball State Defense | 2009 Ball State Depth Chart
- 2008 CFN BSU Preview | 2007 CFN BSU Preview | 2006 CFN BSU Preview 

What you need to know:
Nine starters, not including RB MiQuale Lewis, were back on last year’s offense with stars all across the board. The Cardinals finished 17th in the nation in total offense, 18th in scoring, and dominated up until the post-season. Now the Cardinals will be pushing the reset button. Only one starter returns to the line that was so tight last year, Briggs Orsbon is the only returning wide receiver, and the quarterback options have no experience whatsoever. The one positive for offensive coordinator Eddie Faulkner will be the running backs with Lewis one of three ultra-quick, very good producers to carry the attack. It’s going to be a major work in progress to get anywhere close to the level of last year.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Tanner Justice
2-2, 17 yds, 0 TD, 0 INT
Rushing: MiQuale Lewis
322 carries, 1,736 yds, 22 TD
Receiving: Briggs Orsbon
68 catches, 813 yds, 5 TD

Star of the offense: Senior RB MiQuale Lewis
Player who has to step up and become a star: Redshirt freshman QB Kelly Page
Unsung star on the rise: Senior TE Madaris Grant
Best pro prospect: Lewis
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Lewis, 2) WR Briggs Orsbon, 3) OG Michael Switzer
Strength of the offense: Quick running backs, receiver speed
Weakness of the offense: Experience, line, quarterback

Quarterbacks

Projected Starter: While there will be a fight for the starting quarterback job, Kelly Page will have the inside track. The 6-3, 210-pound redshirt freshman has a live arm and can run. While he’s nowhere near the talent-level of Nate Davis, he’s bigger, has the smarts to step in and shine from day one, and is a great prospect to develop. He’ll also add more to the ground game than Davis, a good runner, did.

Projected Top Reserves: Senior Tanner Justice is a former walk-on with good smarts and decent 6-3, 196-pound size. He's a decent runner and completed both of his passes in mop-up duty, but he’s a limited all-around prospect compared to the other options. He’s a good enough backup to rely on here and there if needed, but there will be problems if he has to be the main man for a long stretch of time. He’d be a game-manager instead of a playmaker.

Looking to be a major factor right away is true freshman Aaron Mershman, one of the team’s top recruits who graduated from high school in December and will be ready to compete for the job this off-season. He has 6-2, 210-pound size and is a tremendous athlete who ran the 400-meters in high school. He’s not the most accurate passer, but he’s an extremely smart, very promising option.

Watch Out For ... Mershman to be in the hunt for playing time early on. While the new coaching staff is hardly going to see this as a rebuilding/learning season, it might be tempting to throw the star freshman to the wolves and see what he can do.
Strength
:
The coaching staff. Head coach Stan Parrish made his name teaching and tutoring quarterbacks. While he has lumps of clay to mold, he knows how to get the most out of the position.
Weakness
:
Experience. There isn’t any to count on. The only one with any playing time, Justice, is the least talented of the three options. There will be some major growing pains and a big drop off from last season.
Outlook: Nate Davis would’ve been one of the nation’s premier quarterbacks and the type of player who could’ve single-handedly taken the program back to a MAC title level after throwing for 3,591 yards and 26 touchdowns. He bolted early for the NFL leaving a ten-mile-wide hole that needs to be filled by an inexperienced prospect. On the plus side, this year will be about developing the young talents and the payoff should come over the next few years.
Rating: 5

Running Backs

Projected Starter: Senior MiQuale Lewis always had the talent, but he never had the health. From a torn ACL that knocked him out of the 2007 season, to a shoulder injury that limited him a few years ago, Lewis wasn’t able to show what he could do. And then came last year when he was finally able to stay injury-free and the former coaching staff rode him into the ground. Lewis, who’s only 5-6 and 184 pounds, was the best player in the MAC finishing with 1,736 yards and 22 touchdowns while finishing third on the team with 35 catches for 325 yards. He’s lightning quick and great at being able to hit the hole and blow through it, but for his size, he’s able to run with surprising power. While he was held to 35 yards in the embarrassment against Tulsa, Lewis was dominant the rest of the year with 11 100-yard games and five with more than 150 yards.

Projected Top Reserves: A Lewis clone, the 5-7, 155-pound Cory Sykes was a solid No. 2 option with 428 yards and three touchdowns with a 5.5-yard average. While he wasn’t used as a receiver, he has the speed and quickness to be deadly with the ball in his hands in the open field. While he didn’t have any breakout games, he was steady.

Junior Frank Edmonds was supposed to be the team’s main backup behind Lewis, but he only finished with 27 yards as he was pushed out of playing time. At 5-8 and 181 pounds, he’s another small, quick back who did a good job two years ago leading the team with 531 yards and six scores. A star Ohio high school sprinter, he needs to do more when he gets into open space.
 
Watch Out For ... even more of a reliance on Lewis. With so many question marks at quarterback, the running game will have to carry the offense as much as possible. Lewis will have to be stellar.
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. Lewis is as tough-as-nails, but forget about getting a power running game going. The backs need open space to be effective.
Outlook: MiQuale Lewis is a special back who can carry the offense if he gets room to move. The offense did a great job of creating holes for him to blast through, but those might not be there without Nate Davis under center anymore. Cory Skyes and Frank Edmonds will get more work to try to keep Lewis fresh.
Rating: 7.5

Receivers

Projected Starters: With a tragic, premature end to the promising career of Dante Love, the passing game needed someone to step up and become a No. 1 target. Sophomore Briggs Orsbon saved the day with 68 catches for 813 yards and five touchdowns highlighted by a 13-catch, 141-yard day in the MAC title game. While he’s not all that big at 6-0 and 185 pounds, he’s a tough target who isn’t afraid to make the hard catch. With so much upheaval in the receiving corps, he’ll have to be the star of the show again.

Tight end Darius Hill seemed like he was around for ten years as a big play target who finished last year as the team’s second-leading receiver while leading the way with seven scores. Now it’ll be up to senior Madaris Grant to be the main safety valve after catching 26 passes for 285 yards. A decent blocker, the 6-5, 222-pounder is more like a big wide receiver than a true tight end. That’s not a bad thing in this offense.

Working at the inside Z position will be 6-3, 181-pound junior Daniel Ifft after making 15 catches for 259 yards and three scores. He’s an excellent route runner who can hit the home run averaging 17.3 yards per catch, but he has to show he can do more when he’s on the field. Always good for a catch a game, it’s his time to shine and become more than just a tremendous practice performer.

Junior Myles Trempe looks more like a hybrid H-Back/tight end than an X receiver, but at 6-4 and 202 pounds he has the size to be a good option. He made 14 catches for 231 yards and two touchdowns, and with his high school track star speed he could start to open up the field a bit more with an expanded role.
 
Projected Top Reserves: On the way to be an instant factor will be Connor Ryan, a 6-1, 185-pound speedster who caught 111 catches for 2,014 yards and 22 touchdowns for St. Ignatius High in Ohio. The team has several interesting deep threat options, but none of them are so good that Ryan can’t step in and take over an outside job.

There are several fast receiver options, but none have the wheels of 6-2, 175-pound sophomore Jeremy Hill. He ran a 14.3 in the 100-meter high hurdles in high school and could turn into an interesting option at either the Z position behind Daniel Ifft or at the X.

Watch Out For ... Grant to be close to as good as Darius Hill. He’s not Hill, but Grant has the athleticism and the experience to be a star. He might not be the No. 1 option, but he could finish behind Orsbon as the team’s No. 2 receiver.
Strength
:
Speed. Orsbon, Trempe, and Ifft can all move. Partly due to the design of the offense, and the play of Nate Davis, there were plenty of chances for big plays. Now this group will have to show they can make the big plays with an inexperienced quarterback.
Weakness
:
A proven No. 2. Ifft could be it, and he’d better be or defenses will use everyone to stop Orsbon. It’ll be hard to equal last year’s production, but that doesn’t mean there can’t be some big plays.
Outlook: The passing game survived the loss of Dante Love to have a big year thanks to the emergence of Briggs Orsbon, but now the pressure will be on for a repeat. Madaris Grant goes from being a good second tight end to the main safety valve while Daniel Ifft needs to be a 20-plus catch contributor.
Rating: 6

Offensive Linemen

Projected Starters: The line is starting from near-scratch with only one returning starter. Junior Michael Switzer started every game at left guard over the last two years and has been a rock. While he’s not huge at 6-5 and 278 pounds, he makes up for it with his athleticism. Now he’ll go from being a nice player who was a part of the system to the anchor. He could move outside to tackle if needed.

The biggest issue will be at right tackle where star Robert Brewster is gone. In comes Cameron Lowry, a way-too-light 6-5, 255-pound redshirt freshman who is physical for his size. Pass protection won’t be too much of an issue, he can move, but it’ll be asking a lot for him to power over too many ends.

Stepping in at center for Dan Gerberry will be 6-3, 284-pound sophomore Kreg Hunter, a part-time right guard who should be a strong mauler in the middle. He started two games to start the year and two more late last year and did a good job, and now he’ll be asked to be the quarterback of the front five.

With Hunter going to center, Steve Yoder will take over at right guard. A star high school baseball player and a top wrestler, the 6-3, 300-pound redshirt freshman will quickly grow into one of the stars of the line. He’s one of the biggest blockers and he should soon be one of the best.

6-8, 284-pound Travis Arnold is one of the few linemen with any experience. The junior got on the field a little bit last year and now has to be the main man at right tackle. He started out last year as a big option at guard before moving to his more natural position playing behind Robert Brewster. With his long arms and big frame, he’s tough to get around.
 
Projected Top Reserves: 6-5, 290-pound Austin Holtz is a promising redshirt freshman who needs to quickly become a major part of the rotation at right tackle. At his size, he’s a big option who can play on either side.

If Kreg Hunter moves back to guard at some point, 6-2, 263-pound sophomore Ben Jacoby will step in at center. He’s not huge and he hasn’t seen any time so far, but he’ll be counted on for the next few years to be a factor somewhere in the interior.

Watch Out For ... a major shuffling and then a reshuffling. Nothing on the depth chart will be set in stone as it’ll be an ongoing issue to find the right combination.
Strength
:
History. Ball State has been decent at stocking the shelves with good offensive linemen over the years, so the hope has to be for the talent to be there to be able to step in and produce right away.
Weakness
:
Experience. There’s Michael Switzer, Kreg Hunter, and a lot of prayers.
Outlook: The line was dominant last season doing a fantastic job in pass protection while opening up mile-wide holes for MiQuale Lewis. That was a veteran group that spent a few years progressing before becoming a tight unit. This year’s line will be starting from scratch with four new starters working around Michael Switzer. This will be the team’s biggest concern by far, and if a rash of injuries strikes early on, pack up the bus and start working on next year.
Rating: 5