2010 Ball State Preview
Ball State RB MiQuale Lewis
Ball State RB MiQuale Lewis
Posted Aug 6, 2010

CollegeFootballNews.com 2010 Preview - Ball State Cardinals

Ball State Cardinals

Preview 2010

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By Pete Fiutak

Head coach: Stan Parrish
2nd year: 2-11
14th year overall: 59-52-3 Returning Lettermen:
Off. 17, Def. 21, ST 4
Lettermen Lost: 15
Ten Best Ball State Players
1. DE Robert Eddins, Sr.
2. RB MiQuale Lewis, Sr.
3. S Sean Baker, Jr.
4. LB Davyd Jones, Sr.
5. LB Travis Freeman, Soph.
6. WR Briggs Orsbon, Jr.
7. TE Madaris Grant, Sr.
8. RB Cory Sykes, Jr.
9. OG Michael Switzer, Sr.
10. WR Torieal Gibson, Jr.
2010 Schedule

Sept. 2 SE Missouri St
Sept. 11 Liberty
Sept. 18 at Purdue
Sept. 25 at Iowa
Oct. 2 at Central Mich
Oct. 9 Western Mich
Oct. 16 Eastern Mich
Oct. 23 at Toledo
Oct. 30 at Kent State
Nov. 6 Akron
Nov. 12 at Buffalo
Nov. 20 Northern Illinois

The big question was whether or not Ball State could survive the massive disappointment of the end of the 2008 season, the loss of head coach Brady Hoke to San Diego State, and the loss of starting quarterback Nate Davis to the NFL. The answer was a resounding no, it couldn't.

The pieces were there for Ball State to be far better than it was, but it wasn't supposed to be a dominant year like the team came up with two years ago. However, it wasn't supposed to be a year when the offense went into the tank, the defense forgot how to play, and the team invented strange ways to lose.

As is the case with many bad, rebuilding teams, the silver lining of a bad season is the experience the young players get. Ball State didn't have to blow everything up to try to start from scratch (like a place like Eastern Michigan), but it did start enough young players to provide an interesting mix of talents coming into this season. The recruits who came in on the heels of the great 2008 campaign, and were thrown to the fire right away, will now blend in with a nice base of veterans in what could be a bounceback season if everything breaks the right way.

As bad as Ball State was, it would've taken just a little bit of luck for things to have been far different. Six of the ten losses were by seven points or fewer and there was no excuse to lose at home to North Texas by ten, there was a breakdown in the final moments against Toledo, and losing at home to New Hampshire, an FCS team, was inexcusable. Call last year a hangover after the disastrous way the Hoke era ended, but now there's no excuse; Ball State should be far better.

This isn't going to be a MAC title team, but with ten starters returning on offense (not including game-breaking receiver, Torieal Gibson), seven starters back on defense, and a solid kicking game and return teams, the Cardinals are well prepared to do far more, be at least four games better, and be in the mix for a winning season and a bowl game.

Can everything fall into place to be in the mix for the West title? It'll take a few big upsets to hang around, but there's enough talent across the board to come close.

What to watch for on offense:
A far more efficient passing game. QB Kelly Page was just starting to come into his own when he broke his thumb and was knocked out for the year. The passing attack went into the tank when Tanner Justice took over, but now he's gone and Page will battle with hotshot redshirt freshman, Aaron Mershman, for the job. All the top receivers are back and the O line returns all five starters, so there's no reason for Ball State to be 117th in the nation and last in the MAC in pass efficiency.

What to watch for on defense: A better pass rush. It was inexcusable that a team with Brandon Crawford and Robert Eddins on the ends could finish 106th in the nation in sacks. Crawford is gone, but Eddins is one of the best in the MAC and should set the tone for an athletic, experienced front seven that will turn it loose and do more to get to the quarterback.

The team will be far better if … the passing game can start coming up with more plays on third downs. Ball State only converted 33.9% of third down chances (102nd in the nation) with just 75 of the first downs overall coming through the air. The defense isn't good enough to be on the field as much as it was last season, and the more long drives, the better.

The schedule: There's absolutely no reason the Cardinals can't come up with a winning season with this slate. Starting out with SE Missouri State and Liberty in the first two games should provide a nice cushion for the following storm going on the road to face Purdue, Iowa, and Central Michigan. If Ball State has any hope of being decent, it has to beat Western Michigan and Eastern Michigan at home, but three of the following four games are on the road. On the plus side, Northern Illinois, arguably the best team in the West, has to come to Muncie, and playing Kent State, Akron, and Buffalo are coming in from the East. Not playing Temple or Bowling Green in interdivisional play is a huge break.

Best offensive player: Senior RB MiQuale Lewis. Getting a sixth year of eligibility thanks to a torn ACL suffered in 2007, the diminutive Lewis will be the centerpiece of the attack. He's not big, but he's tremendously quick and he has been productive with 3,334 rushing yards and 30 touchdowns and 79 catches for 668 yards and a score. He'll get help from a few good backup options so he won't have to do everything by himself, but he'll have his moments.

Best defensive player: Senior DE Robert Eddins. Safety Sean Baker could also turn out to be the team's best defender, but it's Eddins who'll be the key as one of the MAC's most dangerous pass rushers with 21 sacks in his three seasons. He was shut out on the stat sheet in big games against Temple and Western Michigan, but when he's on, he's a game-changer.

Key player to a successful season: Sophomore QB Kelly Page and/or redshirt freshman QB Aaron Mershman. The Cardinals will win some games just because the running game will be so effective, but there's a hard ceiling on what they can do if the quarterback play isn't better. Page is experienced, but he's still developing, and Mershman is promising, but he might eventually be a whale of a safety instead of a corner. True freshman Keith Wenning might be the best option, but this team might be too strong to take a chance with a newcomer.

The season will be a success if … Ball State wins seven games and goes to a bowl. The team isn't good enough to win the MAC, but it could hang around the West for a while if it can hold serve at home. However, if it beats Toledo on the road and NIU at home, there's no reason to not think this could be a West title year.

Key game: Oct. 2 at Central Michigan. It's the MAC opener for the Cardinals, and if they're able to beat the defending champions on the road, it's game on for the West title. A loss means there's no margin for error against Toledo and Northern Illinois, and it might mean a spotless conference slate the rest of the way might be needed to stay alive.

2009 Fun Stats:
- Second quarter scoring: Opponents 122 – Ball State 43
- Penalties: Opponents 81 for 702 yards – Ball State 62 for 523 yards
- Average passing yards per game: Opponents 234.3 – Ball State 134.4

- 2010 Ball State Preview | 2010 Ball State Offense
- 2010 Ball State Defense | 2010 Ball State Depth Chart
- Ball State Previews  2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006