Well, it looks like the Cardinals couldn't break their losing streak. This is now four in a row that they lost. They have already lost more games this year than they lost all of last season. At this point, it's hard for Ball State fans to be optimistic. The Cardinals fell to Army 33-24. It's a hard game for Cardinal fans to swallow, due to the fact that Ball State easily handled Army last season.
The biggest downfall for Ball State in this game was their inability to convert on 3rd down. They were 1 for 8 on the game. It's hard to compete when you can never convert on 3rd down. Army had much more success, being 9 for 15 on the night. Penalties also played a big factor on the game. Army was able to limit themselves to one penalty for 15 yards. The Cardinals, unfortunately, were not so disciplined. They had 4 penalties for 36 yards.
Ball State was not able to stop Army on the ground whatsoever. Running back Larry Dixon had 188 yards on 28 carries. Angel Santiago, Army's quarterback, was also able to pick up 89 yards and a touchdown on 13 attempts. It was surprising that Ball State linebackers did not step up more to stop this run game. Having running backs average 6.2 yards per carry is inexcusable, especially for the caliber linebackers that Ball State has. Ball State's defense as a whole was not top notch, besides the one fumble recovery, they didn't do anything spectacular Army's running attack was pretty much their whole offense. Through the air, Army only had 48 yards. If the Cardinals were able to contain the run more, we could have had a completely different outcome.
One of the two receptions that Army completed was for 37 yards to Edgar Poe. The other was to Raymond Maples for 11 yards. It is evident that Army is not a pass heavy team. They weren't in any pressure to throw the ball down field, as they were leading the whole game.
The Cardinals trailed the whole game. These are games where Ball State quarterback, Ozzie Mann, needs to step up. Mann really hasn't done anything impressive all year. He was 18 for 26, throwing for one touchdown and one interception. It isn't terrible, but Mann really needs to step up in games that the Cardinals trail. It's really no secret that Ball State's passing game is lacking as a whole. The only other touchdown that Ball State was able to pick up was a reception to tight end Dylan Curry. It was his only reception of the night for six yards. With Jordan Edwards having injury issues, another receiver needs to step up. The only receiver that we have seen step up is KeVonn Mabon, but he isn't nearly putting up Jordan Edwards type numbers. Ball State needs to have multiple receivers step up. This is an area the Cardinals will need to improve on if they want any chance of being ahead of the MAC West.
The one thing for Cardinal fans to be optimistic about was the fact that Jahwan Edwards still able to have a solid game. He had a 56-yard touchdown run that was able to keep Ball State in the game. He was able to get 2 of the three Cardinal touchdowns. However, he only had 12 carries on the night, gaining 142 yards. Not only was he the top rusher, he was also the top receiver. He had 5 catches for 44 yards. It looks like Edwards is the biggest key player for Ball State's offense.
The loss today was obviously another devastating one. While bowl chances are still a possibility, it looks like there is much less of a chance. They only way I can see Ball State making a bowl game is if they win pretty much every game for the rest of the year. Realistically, I don't see this happening. I don't even see Ball State as a .500 team this year. Hopefully they will be able to pick up a win against Western Michigan next week at home. Picking up a win my trigger some momentum and steer this team in the right direction.