Ball State spring practice notes
Here are some spring notes for the team:
8/29 Illinois State
9/14 at North Texas
9/21 at Eastern Michigan
10/5 at Virginia
10/12 Kent State
10/19 at Western Michigan
10/26 at Akron
11/6 Central Michigan
11/13 at Northern Illinois
11/23 OPEN DATE
11/20 Miami Univ.
- Ball State returns eight starters on defense, but needs a lot more production from its front seven this fall. In 2012, the Cardinals weren't able to find a pass rush, which put a lot of pressure on the secondary. With some fresh names in the mix, look for the front seven to have a little more consistency and a lot more depth. Ends Nick Miles, Jonathan Newsome and Michael Ayers have to become much more aggressive.
- A passing attack that ranked 47th overall (254.0 yards per game) should only get better with the return of star quarterback Keith Wenning and a stud receiver corps. Top pass catcher Willie Snead is a real deep threat, and tight end Zane Fakes is set to have a breakout season.
- Running back Jahwan Edwards rushed for over 1,400 yards and 14 touchdowns in what was an extremely balanced offense last year. Now that four of five starting offensive linemen have graduated, he's going to have to work even harder to find open space from the backfield and will have to become an innovative runner in order to help sustain that same consistency.
- Speaking of the offensive line, you would have barely noticed that four starters have departed by the way it handled things in practice last Wednesday. Matt Page, Drake Miller, Steve Bell Jacorb Richard, Bryan Ford and Josh Smith are all guys that are competing for starting roles this fall, while incoming freshman -- and JUCO transfer P.J. Scott -- will have big impacts upon their arrival. How quickly they will grasp the system and the pace is the only question. Guard Jordan Hansel is the only returning starter from 2012.
- Statistically, the secondary struggled last year, but this was mainly due to a lack of pass rush from the front seven. With Chris Pauling switching from safety to corner -- joining Eric Patterson and Jeff Garrett -- this should be a very solid group. Replacing Jarrett Swaby at strong safety won't be easy, but the combination of Brian Jones and a strong field of underclassmen will be able to get the job done.
- Wenning is the real deal. Just from watching one practice, it's obvious that he has complete control of the offense and is a true leader on the team. He has the arm strength to make some pretty remarkable throws and has a pretty spin. He has great anticipation and doesn't get antzy when the first option isn't there. Other than a lone interception -- which was the fault of the receiver -- I can't recall a single play where Wenning didn't put the ball in his target's chest. At 6-foot-3, 225 pounds, he has prototypical size and is a true pocket passer. The all-conference QB could definitely sneak into the 2014 NFL Draft as a 6th- to 7th-round selection, assuming he can continue his collegiate success as a senior and lead Ball State to another nine- or 10-win season.
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