Question: Are Jahwan Edwards and Horactio Banks still running through, around and in-between the Ohio defense? Because I could get used to seeing that 30 more times over the next two-plus years.
Edwards, a sophomore, and Banks, a freshman, gashed the Ohio University defense for a combined 304 yards - 169 for Edwards and 135 for Banks - in Ball State's 52-27 rout of the Bobcats Wednesday night. It was awesome on about 1,000 levels - the transformation this team has made in less than two seasons under Pete Lembo is a sight to behold. Every time Ball State has possession of the ball, I'm confident the Cardinals are capable of scoring. The only time I remember ever feeling like that is 2008.
Apparently Ball State is in a ‘Mike Leach-era Texas Tech Plug-And-Play' position at quarterback, as fifth-year senior backup Kelly Page (who was the starter as a redshirt freshman in a completely disastrous 2009 season) came on for an injured Keith Wenning was completely competent and then some. Page really wasn't asked to do a whole lot other than hand off to Edwards or Banks, but his first play of the game was a beauty - he kept the ball on the zone read and quite literally walked seven yards unimpeded to the end zone.
Seriously - watch No. 41 there for Ohio. DERP. No need to glance and see that the quarterback has the ball in his hands.
And for good measure, Page also threw two touchdowns passes to Zane Fakes and snapped off one very pretty deep ball that was barely over the outstretched arms of Willie Snead, who earlier scored on a 42-yard screen pass. This play never works on video games, so it's always amazing to see it work in real life.
You've got to feel happy for Page, especially since it was Senior Night. He's held the clipboard for the past three years as Wenning has shot up the Ball State record book with his stealth play and high completion percentage. But after Wenning rolled his ankle catching a pass on a completely asinine Quarterback Throwback (more on this later), Page admirably handled the job. Lembo has been saying all season that Page has the ability to start, but nobody actually believed that. On Wednesday night, Page proved Lembo correct.
Compliments toward the Ball State defense have been few and far between for much of the season, but it did a fine job in the second half, only allowing three points in the final 27 minutes of the game. I don't know if Ball State's had any stretch like that all season.
Ohio quarterback Tyler Tettleton was sacked four times, with Jonathan Newsome and Brandon Newman each getting credit for 1.5 sacks apiece. Quintin Cooper also intercepted a pass, which may have been the easiest pick in the history of the world - and that's including Phil Rivers' terrible pass this past weekend. Ohio did finish with 483 yards of offense, but in this points-based world of football, what the defense did was commendable.
I don't have a whole lot to say about what transpired at the end of the first half because I have no idea what the correct call should have been. Tettleton was sacked with eight seconds left, and without any timeouts, Ohio tried to race its field-goal unit onto the field. Yes, the clock operator inexplicably stopped the clock when he/she shouldn't have. Yes, Ball State had an extra player on the field. Yes, Ohio did get the snap off before the clock struck :00 thanks to the two free seconds it got. But I don't know how you interpret the substitution rule - where if an offensive team subs players in, the defense has to be permitted time to do the same - in a situation like that at the end of a half.
Wouldn't every football ever just stall if a team had to run on and kick a late field goal? I know that doesn't happen very often but there have been a few situations where it's been executed perfectly. Couldn't the defense just be la-de-da about subbing in and get that call? Personally, I think Ohio should've received five yards for Ball State having too-many-men-on-the-field and given a FG attempt. It's not their fault the Ball State clock operator screwed up. But it's all in the interpretation of the substitution rule.
Let's talk for a few minutes about Wenning. Remember when Mike Shanahan said he felt ‘like a complete dumb---' for running that quarterback throwback play to Robert Griffin III against the Steelers? I've got to believe that's how Lembo feels right now. Wenning wasn't the recipient of a cheap shot; rather, he rolled his ankle on the landing as Ohio's Alphonso Lewis hit him. A sickening feeling went through my body as I listened on the radio. That happened late in the first half and Wenning didn't return. There's no word yet to the extent of Wenning's injury - if he's out for an extended period of time, Lembo's gonna be questioned about that play call for quite some time.
HOWEVER, let's flip this: Ball State ran the exact same play to perfection against Indiana - albeit to the other side of the field - with Wenning making a diving, one-handed catch in the end zone for a touchdown. It's a great play call if it works, but a terrible one when disaster happens. It's at the 1:38 mark if the video isn't at the right spot.
Let's not end on a sour note: at the end of the night, it was another huge win for the Ball State football team. The Cards are 8-3, something not a lot of people predicted, and are surely going bowling. Hopefully, it's against a BCS team and the Cardinals can get their THIRD BCS win of the season.