2009 CFN Ball State Preview
Ball State DE Brandon Crawford
Ball State DE Brandon Crawford
Posted May 6, 2009

CollegeFootballNews.com 2009 Preview - Ball State Cardinals

Ball State Cardinals

Preview 2009

By Pete Fiutak

- 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 

Head coach: Stan Parrish
1st year
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 13, Def. 21, ST 2
Lettermen Lost: 20
Ten Best BSU Players
1. RB MiQuale Lewis, Sr.
2. DE Brandon Crawford, Sr.
3. SS Sean Baker, So.
4. WR Briggs Orsbon, So.
5. FS Alex Knipp, Sr.
6. OG Michael Switzer, Jr.
7. DT Drew Duffin, Sr.
8. TE Madaris Grant, Sr.
9. DE Robert Eddins, Jr.
10. LB Davyd Jones, Jr.

2009 Schedule
CFN Prediction:

2009 Record: 0-0

9/3 North Texas
9/12 New Hampshire
9/19 at Army
9/26 at Auburn
10/3 Toledo
10/10 at Temple
10/17 Bowling Green
10/24 at Eastern Michigan
10/31 Ohio
11/12 at Northern Illinois
11/18 Central Michigan
11/24 at Western Michigan

2008 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 6-6
2008 Record: 12-2

8/28 Northeastern W 48-14
9/5 Navy W 35-23
9/13 at Akron W 41-24
9/20 at Indiana W 42-20
9/27 Kent State W 41-20
10/4 at Toledo W 31-0
10/11 at W. Kent. W 24-7
10/25 East. Mich W 38-16
11/5 N Illinois W 45-14
11/11 at Miami Un. W 31-16
11/19 at C. Mich W 31-24
11/25 W. Mich W 45-22
12/5 Buffalo L 42-24
1/6 Tulsa L 45-13

How good is the Ball State program?

Good, solid programs can lose top talents and replace them with decent, productive players to fill in the gaps. Good, solid programs can lose a head coach and keep on winning. Good, solid programs can rebuild and find ways to work around the remaining players that got the team to decent heights to begin with.

Ball State hasn’t exactly been USC when it comes to being able to replace next-level prospects, and it hasn’t been on the cusp of the BCS on a regular basis. But now it’ll have to find a way to move on without QB Nate Davis, who jumped ship early for the next level, several star offensive linemen, TE Darius Hill, WR Dante Love, who was injured early last year, and both corners. Oh yeah, and then there’s the coach.

Ball State showed just how hard it is to keep up in the college football world when a little success hits. Brady Hoke was offered more by San Diego State, a stepping-stone job at best, and couldn’t stick around Muncie. In comes Stan Parrish, who had major problems when he took over in the GMAC Bowl as the team looked lost in a 45-13 loss. He’ll be looking to keep the production going while rebuilding on both sides of the ball. In this year’s MAC, and with an easy schedule, he’ll have to deal with expectations, with or without the same top-shelf players Hoke had over the last few years.

The team will revolve around a strong defensive front that gets all four starters back, and the offense has a star in the diminutive MiQuale Lewis, a big-time producer who’ll go from being a star cog in the attack to being the one the No. 1 option. However, with seven starters gone off the offense and the defensive back seven losing four key players, it’s going to take awhile to reload.

The team and program will show its staying power if this year’s recruiting class is as good as expected. Most of the key prospects, highlighted by LB Travis Freeman, decided to come to Muncie even with Hoke leaving, and it’s not like the replacements and new starters can’t play.

No, this won’t be the epic year of 2008, but Ball State will still be a factor in the MAC race. For good and bad, the program goes from being the hot, hunted No. 1 team to being a step behind. No one will expect too much, but there are enough positives to surprise and get back to the title game with a little bit of luck.

What to watch for on offense: Problems in pass protection. Last year’s line struggled when it came to protecting Nate Davis, and now four starters are gone. With a new starting quarterback and only one player, guard Michael Switzer, to rely on up front, quick passes and runs will be the gameplan until the right combination is found on the line.

What to watch for on defense: MMore sacks. Defensive coordinator Doug Graber likes to use several defensive backs and will mix up the schemes week by week. The one constant should be the defensive front that gets all four starters back. There isn’t any bulk, but there’s plenty of speed and quickness to send into the backfield.

The team will be far better if … the team realizes 2008 is 2008. This won’t be the same offensive juggernaut of last year and there will be some severe growing pains for at least half the season. The passing game will struggle to be as efficient and the defense will have issues at corner. However, the schedule is light enough, and the team still has enough talent, to stay in the hunt for the MAC title all season long.

The Schedule: Playing North Texas and New Hampshire to start out the year will be a nice way to get all the new pieces in place. There isn’t a game against a 2008 bowl team until mid-November, although one of the first nine games is at Auburn. It’ll be all about the finishing kick with road trips to Northern Illinois and Western Michigan wrapped around the showdown against Central Michigan. There’s only one tough road span going away three times in four weeks early on, but two of the games are against Army and Temple.

Best Offensive Player: Senior RB MiQuale Lewis. He might be only 5-6 but he’s as tough as nails. Finally able to stay healthy for a full season, Lewis showed what he could do with 1,736 rushing yards and 11 100-yard games. Now he’ll be the one the offense revolves around with so many new faces for the passing game.

Best Defensive Player: Senior DE Brandon Crawford. The Marine will be 34 by the start of the season. He has the maturity and he has the pass rushing ability, but he has to get to the quarterback more. He’s great at making plays behind the line and he’s a tough 260 pounds. Now he’ll be a first-team All-MAC star with a few more sacks.

Key player to a successful season: Redshirt freshman QB Kelly Page. It’s asking way too much to immediately produce like Nate Davis was able to do over the last few years. Page is bigger, a strong runner, and has the potential to grow into the job and be a good leader for the attack over the next four years. However, he’ll need some developing.

The season will be a success if ... the Cardinals get back to a bowl game. There are way too many key losses, including in the coaching staff, to expect to get back to the MAC title game coming out of a nasty division, but getting to a third straight bowl game would be a nice feat. The offense should still be solid enough to stay with just about anyone in the MAC, while the D, especially the front, could be better.

Key game: Nov. 18 at Central Michigan. As always, the CMU game will be the key road block for a spot in the MAC title game, and it’ll also be a must win as the final home game of the year sandwiched in between road battles with Northern Illinois and Western Michigan. The Wednesday night showdown with the Chippewas will be one of four weeknight games; all three final games will be on a school night.

2008 Fun Stats: 
- First quarter scoring: Ball State 90 – Opponents 39
- Penalties: Opponents 67 for 600 yards – Ball State 39 for 374 yards
- Punt return average: Ball State 15.5 yards – Opponents 6.2 yards