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2015 MAC football non-conference previews: VMI Keydets

VMI has one MAC school on the 2015 docket: Ball State.

After a 2014 season that saw VMI go 2-10 and just 1-6 in conference play, the Keydets will look to get off to a good start to the 2015 season when they travel to Muncie to take on the Cardinals.

The good news for Ball State fans is in the record; VMI is not Indiana State, and anything less than a commanding victory is a sign for concern for the Cards.

VMI's 2014 troubles are obvious nearly everywhere, including up front at the quarterback position. The Keydets had three different quarterbacks play in all 12 games in 2014, and all three of those guys are back for this season. Al Cobb took on most of the responsibilities, though, as he finished the season with 269 completions on 438 attempts. Cobb also had a 2:1 touchdown to interception ratio and threw a pick every 43.8 times he threw the ball.

Deon Watts and Jabari Turner led the way for VMI's abysmal rushing game in 2014, as the Keydets averaged just over 100 yards per game on the ground, while allowing their opponents to go for nearly 300.

VMI will lose Watts, who also finished second in team receiving, catching 41 passes for 315 yards and two touchdowns a season ago. The leading receiver was Aaron Sanders, whose 901 receiving yards were good for over 15 yards per catch in 2014.

Defensively, the Keydets were awful in 2014, giving up over 41 points per game, and relied on their offense to do most of the hard lifting, but the inexperienced offense often couldn't keep up. They put up a reasonable 24.2 points per game, but that wasn't nearly enough to make up for the defensive struggles. The leading returner for the defense is outside linebacker Ryan Francis, who jumped on the scene as a redshirt freshman to finish first overall in solo tackles and second in total tackles for the Keydets.

Junior kicker Dillion Christopher finished the 2014 season 7-for-13 on field goals, as well as 33-for-35 on PATs. His longest made on season was 49, but as a freshman in 2013, Christopher nailed two 52-yard field goals as well.

If VMI's 48-7 loss against Bowling Green last year is to serve any preview to the BSU matchup, it says that the Keydets are just too weak everywhere to put up a fight against the Cards. VMI was down 34-7 by halftime and had allowed Travis Green to rack up 115 yards rushing by halftime.

Speaking as a whole, Ball State doesn't have much to be worried about in this one. Anything less than a five-touchdown victory shows that fans should be concerned about the Cards' offense in 2015. This matchup will also allow the Cardinals to go deep into their running back core. Pete Lembo will be able to test backups and BSU should be more prepared for the rest of the season after the opener.