It's Monday Ball State fans. Are you over that loss to Iowa? No? Well get over it. The goal is, and has always been, a MAC championship. Our aspirations have not changed. And we may be ahead of schedule.
Ball State quarterback Ozzie Mann has proven he's the one Cardinal fans want under center. Mann emerged as the starter in what began as a four horse race during spring practice. He's started off his Ball State career with a 1-1 record through two games, and damn was he close to 2-0. So how does he stack up against the man whose shoes he filled? We're going to compare Ozzie Mann with Ball State legend Keith Wenning. It's too early, it proves nothing, you'll reiterate those sentiments, and we're going to do it anyway. Mann vs. Wenning, two games in:
Ozzie Mann's First Game:
It wasn't flashy, but it didn't lead Ball State fans to wonder if they had the right quarterback. Ultimately, Mann beat out freshman QB Jack Milas for the spot, and the first matchup was kind. Ozzie and the Cardinals drew Colgate, an FCS foe who finished just 4-8 overall out of the Patriot League in 2013. Ball State scored a 30-10 home victory, with the rushing attack being the focus of the offense. In his first start, Mann had a pass intercepted in the end zone and was otherwise efficient, completing 20 of 32 passes for 203 yards and two scores.
Keith Wenning's First Game:
Mr. Wenning wasn't nearly as fortunate in his first game. Splitting time with Kelly Page, Wenning played the bulk of the snaps. The Stan Parrish coached Cardinals fell at home to Liberty, an FCS school that would win the Big South Conference in 2010, 27-23. For his part, Wenning didn't play poorly, completing 13 of 18 passes for 129 yards, a touchdown, and did not throw an interception.
Ozzie Mann's Second Game:
The one that got away. Ball State fans could taste the upset. Certainly traveling to Kinnick Stadium to play the Iowa Hawkeyes in just his second career stat is a test, and considering that task, Mann responded admirably. The Cardinals focused on the ground game and solid defense, but head coach Pete Lembo did not shy away from throwing the ball. Mann connected on 15 of 30 passes for 129 yards, no touchdowns, no interceptions in a 17-13 Iowa win. Following two late Iowa scores, Mann would fumble on the final play, on the Cardinal 33, with under half a minute remaining. Despite the late miscue, Mann played well enough for the Cardinals to win in a sloppy game where points were at a premium.
Keith Wenning's Second Game:
Things didn't get better for Wenning in his second game. His next opponent was the Purdue Boilermakers, on the road at Ross-Ade Stadium. This was a bad Boilermaker team. Not as bad as 2014's, but that's not saying much. Purdue would finish the season 4-8 overall and 2-6 in Big Ten play. After leading Ball State at halftime, 14-6, the Boilers pulled away, winning 24-13. Wenning struggled, completing 11 of 21 passes for 89 yards, with no touchdowns and 2 interceptions. He was also sacked four times in the loss.
Ozzie Mann's Third Game:
Ozzie Mann gets to further sharpen his skills on Saturday before conference play opens with a road trip to Toledo on September 20th. The Cardinals welcome instate foe Indiana State to Scheumann Stadium in Muncie. Indiana State is an FCS opponent out of the Missouri Valley Football Conference. They've opened their season with a 28-10 loss at Indiana and a 49-14 win over Tennessee Tech on September 6th.
Keith Wenning's Third Game:
A familiar opponent, the Iowa Hawkeyes, but the Cardinals were never in this one. Wenning again split time with Kelly Page, Page getting most of the snaps. Wenning threw just 8 times, completing 4, for 26 yards and a pick in a 45-0 Hawkeye destruction of the Cardinals. He wouldn't have to wait long for a win though. A week later Wenning played every snap and threw for 2 touchdowns in a 31-17 Cardinal road win at Central Michigan.