Because I like you people, I’ve enlisted the help of another Ball State blogger– Brandon from Ball U Nation— to help you get to know the Cardinals a little better. Don’t say I’ve never done anything for you.
The team is coming off of a winning season and a bowl berth. Jason Whitlock is doing his best to deliver what hype he can. There’s a ton of returning offensive talent and a newly renovated stadium to show off on primetime Friday ESPN. How big of a game is this for the Ball State program?
This is a huge game for our program. Our program does not get many chances like this to show a national audience how good our team is and this could do good things for our recruiting profile as well. Obviously, since Jason has been talking up the program lately, it will give us a chance to show college football fans that he is not totally crazy for hyping us as a BCS crasher.
Where does Ball State fit into the MAC title picture in 2008?
Ball State definitely has the talent to win the MAC title, it will come down to the Central Michigan game. I think both teams will only have one or two losses going in to the game, if we can finally get a win over the Chips, then we pretty much have the title in the bag because I don’t see any team that scares me in the East.
Break down the Northeastern game a little.
The Northeastern game was close to perfection for the offense. Nate Davis had one of the best games of his career and completed 80% of his passes, Dante Love and Darius Hill had good games, and Dan Ifft and Briggs Orsbon played well as the second and fourth receiver respectively. Best of all, MiQuale Lewis showed that he’s recovered from ACL surgery and Navy is now going to have to respect the run game as well and will not be able to play off the ball and dare Ball State to run. The defense played relatively well, especially the run defense, but we did look vulnerable to short passes and our pass rush needs to be better at consistently pressuring the quarterback. Shockingly, with the exception of Jake Hogue and his terrible kick-offs, the kicking game was solid and Chris Miller did his usual excellent job as our punter.
The old cliche with MAC recruiting is that they get the Big Ten’s leftovers. But how many Big Ten teams would kill to have the trio of Nate Davis, Dante Love, and Darius Hill?
I know Michigan would kill to have an offense half as good as ours right now, Michigan State and Iowa could also use their services.
Run defense has been a problem for the Cardinals the last couple of years. How is the defense shaping up in 2008?
The defense looked good against Northeastern, the million dollar question being was it because they’re legitimately improved or was it because any defense looks good against Northeastern? I thought the linebackers looked good, although they seemed slow to react to a couple of screen plays and the secondary, Trey Buice in particular, did a good job as well. The big question mark in 2008 is once again the defensive line. The ends were able to get some pressure against Northeastern, but the season will come down to the play of the defensive tackles. If they can maintain their gaps and keep the linebackers clean consistently, we should be good defensively. If they cannot…well, it’s a good thing we have such a high-powered offense, we’ll need it because we’ll be in a shootout every week.
Thanks to Brandon for the view from Muncie. Be sure to head over to his site for my answers to his questions.