Channel your inner ESPN 30 for 30 narrator voice and follow along. "What if I told you there was a running back that as a junior is 6th all-time on his school’s career rushing touchdowns list? That in only 24 career games has scored 25 career touchdowns. That has three games with three or more rushing touchdowns. What if I told you he is 8th on his school’s all-time career rushing chart? That as a sophomore rushed for the third-highest single season yardage mark in school history. That in that same season set the third-best single season TD record. Ball State football is proud to present Shaking Up the MAC: The Jahwan "Quake" Edwards Story." [/narrator voice]
I know, the flashy lights in the MAC are on the passing game. Those high yardage 50 point bloodbaths led to multiple defensive coordinator ulcers and the Twitter phenomenon of MACtion. I get it, I do. But take a little bit closer look and you’ll find the most successful MAC teams of 2012 didn’t just air it out all over the place like demon spawn of Mike Leach and Hal Mumme. Surprisingly enough, your most successful MACers of ’12 were the teams that copied mating snails and did it on the ground. Kent State and NIU used a successful rushing attack to knock on and/or bust the BCS. With balance comes success.
For Ball State, fans should know that. They should understand that. They should remember that little piece of wisdom, since even those who conveniently block out 2009 and 2010 remember 2008. That season’s pass attack was pointed to as the reason why BSU accomplished such great things. Of course, an easy argument to make is that the unsung responsible hero for that season’s success and the freedom of the passing game to run roughshod over the defense was the success of the rushing attack led by MiQuale Lewis. It’s an easy argument to make because it’s the correct one. Without a dominant rushing attack, the passing game doesn’t motor nearly as well, undefeated regular season goes down the drain, losses accrue, dogs and cats live together, MASS ANARCHY BREAKS OUT IN MUNCIE! And we wouldn’t want that, now would we?
But the funny thing about history is aside from it being easily forgotten as we collectively mess our britches about go routes and deep posts it is also eerily able to repeat itself. And don’t look now, but it’s happening all over again in Muncie. Passing attack led by a dominant QB? Check. Offensive line that’s experienced and massive? Check. Running back that has a nickname that starts with Q-U and loves contact more than a furry on X? Check. Get the Hill Valley clock tower ready for a lightning strike, Doc Brown. We’ve seen this movie before.
Jahwan "Quake" Edwards is one of those rare MAC backs that isn’t built out of papier-mâché with blazing fast speed assuming his ligaments don’t just pack up and bid adieu to the body. No, Quake Edwards is a different kind of back. It’s hard to describe really. The easiest way would be to find a highlight of a safety creeping into the box to stop the run game and enjoy the sweet tasty carnage that ensues. Can’t find one of those highlights? Go find a YouTube of a freight train crashing into a parked school bus. Can’t find one of those either? I’m sure there’s a cat video you can entertain yourself with.
Quake comes into 2013 after a remarkably successful 2012, one that landed him on the All-MAC 3rd team. His 108 yards per game was good enough for 5th best in the conference and the award committees have taken notice, placing him on the Doak Walker Award watch list for 2013. And while a 1,410 yard 2013 campaign may not win national awards, it will be the catalyst to further offensive prowess in Muncie.
As I’ve mentioned in most of these preview pieces, the BSU offense under Pete Lembo and offensive coordinator Rich Skrosky is an offense predicated on precision, versatility, and adaptability for whatever the defense throws at them. Wenning gets the headlines throwing to the likes of Willie Snead, Jamill Smith and Zane Fakes, but what makes those routes a bit more open and the deep threats a bit more feasible is the attention that opposing defenses have to pay to Edwards and the run game. Throw in a cerebral QB like Keith Wenning and his checkdowns at the line and all of a sudden you are in quite a pickle as a defense. All of the parts are equally valuable and equally important. Without one, the others don’t function. And to establish a running game that makes opposing coaches pay it adequate respect, Quake has to do his thing.
Whether Edwards has a statistical output in 2013 like his 2012 is really the responsibility of the defenses that face BSU. In a true Sophie’s Choice type of situation, whether or not your defense is torched isn’t the question. It’s whether by land or by air. Hang a lantern or two in your pressbox to signal your choice and just hang on.
Read more about Ball State athletics at Over The Pylon.