The spring game can give you a glimpse of what you can expect from your team in the fall. Ball State's game was an especially important one as they would be trying to replace the leadership and arm of Wenning at QB. What those in attendance got was something we weren't used to seeing from a Ball State squad. A defense that looks to be very improved and an almost non-existent offense. As a fan, you can sometimes expect too much from a team. But having what you expect perhaps take a step back, to the reality of it going back about 15 is a huge difference. Here are some of my thoughts from the game.
First, Ball State plays a unique form of the Spring Game with each quarter being 5 offensive possessions. Each series would be played in order: 1st team, 2nd, 1st, 2/3rd, 1st. I feel this wasn't always followed however as the QB situation changed quite often most likely due to them all competing for the starting job. Points are obtained as such:
Drive Stop = 1 point
Three and Out = 3 points
Takeaway = 5 points
Touchdown = 6 points
PAT = 1 point
First Down = 1 point
Field Goal = 3 points
Touchdown = 6 points
PAT = 1 point
2-point Conversion = 2 points
Let's just get what the final score of the game was out of the way right now. Red (Offense) 22 White (Defense) 44
Starting with the good, the Defense looked really good the entire game. They swarmed to the ball and only allowed two really big plays along with only one sustained drive. Only one penalty was called on them and that was an offsides. Receivers never had much room to work with and holes were stuffed before any running lanes could really open. Somehow, this Defense suddenly looked a lot like Bowling Green's and that is something BSU fan can get excited about! Now for the big BUT and go onto the downside.
The offense. Oh my the offense. What to say. No one expected anyone to automatically fill the shoes or be quite as good as Wenning. But what we have now looks almost nothing short of bad bad bad. The game started with Ozzie Mann (Rs.SO) under center and on his very first pass, threw an interception that was nearly ran back for a TD. Kyle Kamman (JR) was up next and he never did much of anything with all of his drives going 3 and out. Jack Milas (RS.FR) and David Morrison (FR) were about the only true bright spots at QB. Seeing as they are freshman gives me definite hope for future years as they develop. But then you have to look at the running game. Horatio Banks didn't seem to play today leaving the carrying up to Williamson, Edwards, Pierce (SR), and Nash (RS.FR). Nash had the longest running play of 8 yards. The rest were typically 3 yards or less with Edwards normally being stuffed behind the line. The pocket would collapse quickly around the QB giving him little time to throw. The only consistent catcher on the day was KeVonn Mabon (Rs.SO). Williams was targeted a few times but was either overthrown or dropped two of the passes. Let's break down a bit of how each QB did.
Ozzie Mann - He looks as though Lembo is leaning towards him to be a starter this year. He had the first drive and was out there most of the time with what appeared to be the first team offense. But like I said, he threw an interception on his first pass. He wasn't very mobile in the pocket either and would often hold onto the ball far longer than he should have. He did have one decent drive getting down to within 11 yards of the goal line but would have thrown a second interception if a flag had not been thrown for holding on the Offensive line. He ended the day with no TD's and 1.5 interceptions imo.
Kyle Kamman - It appears he is destined to play a secondary role no matter what this fall. Typically he would go in after an Ozzie Mann drive and his passes were lax which is putting it lightly. Again, the pocket would collapse but he had a better presence to move around. I'm fairly certain though that all of his drives ended in 3 and out's. He was also the place holder for FG attempts half of the time.
Jack Milas - Now here is a good prospect. After the first quarter, it looked like he got a bulk of the drives given to him. He had good movement in the pocket and had a really good fake hand off technique which fooled the defense a couple of times. This gave him time to throw but that's about where the good ended. Jack has a good arm but he doesn't have control over it yet. He would often overthrow his receivers time and time again. He was, perhaps, the most consistent though and gave the longest drive of the day for the offense.
David Morrison - The true freshman graduated HS in Dec and is already here practicing. In the warm ups, I really liked the zip he had on the ball. Sadly, he only was only given two series in the game. The first one gave a spark to the offense though with a great long yard completion. It is my guess that Lembo may redshirt him this year so that he can get 4 years out of him and give him time to bulk up as he is the lightest of the four QB's so far at 184.
Final thoughts on QB's - I won't be surprised if we see a dueling QB system in place for BSU this fall with a majority of the playing time go between Mann and Milas. Milas as the arm strength for the deep threat but needs to work on accuracy. Mann has more finesse and if he can have more time in the pocket, should be able to complete the short to mid range ball fairly well.
Other random thoughts on what I saw today - Mabon and Patterson look to be the top two prospects on kick returns while Jordan Williams appears set to be the punt returner. That could change if Banks comes back in. The FG kicking unit team was fantastic hitting FG's from the 30 yard line right down the middle with room to spare despite how windy it was today too. There was only one blocked FG attempt today and that was because of a botched handling by Kamman when it was snapped to him. Punting also looked tremendous today too. A new PK/P that looked especially impressive was Alex Egan (RS.SO) who punted the ball long and with a lot of hang time. Was also nailing the long FG attempts too so we could see him called out from time to time.
Final thoughts - This may have just been the spring game, but I found a whole lot wrong and quite worrisome from Ball State in their offense. The line was supposed to be more experienced than last years but looked like it was their first time playing together. Defensively, I hope they play like this the whole year. They didn't give up a single TD to BSU's offense allowing them to get in the red zone only 2 or 3 times. They played aggressively and swarmed on the ball creating a lot of chances for turnovers. It looks as though it will be up to them to help keep the Cardinals in the games this year.