2009 Ball State Cardinals Football Preview
2008 Record: (12-2, 8-0)
2008 Bowl: GMAC Bowl vs. Tulsa (L 13-45)
Coach: Stan Parrish (0-1 at Ball State, 57-42-3 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Eddie Faulkner
Defensive Coordinator: Doug Graber
Other Key Returnees: LE Brandon Crawford, DT Drew Duffin, TE Madaris Grant, LB Davyd Jones, DT Rene Perry, G Michael Switzer
Key Losses: OT Robert Brewster, CB Trey Buice, G Kyle Cornwell, QB Nate Davis, C Dan Gerberry, LB Bryant Haines, CB B.J. Hill, TE Darius Hill, WR Louis Johnson, LB Kenny Meeks, P Chris Miller, OT Andre Ramsey
For 12 games Ball State captured the imagination of the Mid-American Conference and the nation. The Cardinals looked unbeatable in conference play up until the conference championship when they lost to Buffalo. Then Ball State got exposed by Tulsa in the GMAC Bowl. The teams’ success got former coach Brady Hoke a job in the Mountain West Conference and Stan Parrish stepped in for the bowl game and will take over fulltime for 2009.
Ball State's Strengths:
The Cardinals will have to rely on their defense more this year and that should not be a problem with the return of seven starters. Safeties Alex Knipp and Sean Baker will be the strong point of the unit. Koreen Burch and Torieal Gibson will take over at the corner spots and while they are relatively inexperienced, those two could emerge as solid players. The front four returns everybody, but they must do a better job getting pressure on the opposing quarterback. That job falls to ends Brandon Crawford and Robert Eddins. In the meantime, Drew Duffin and Rene Perry are experienced interior linemen who will stuff the run. Linebackers Bryant Haines and Kenny Meeks are gone and Davyd Jones has to step up and become a leader and Spain Cosby and Sam Woodworth better be ready to take on a starting role.
Ball State's Weaknesses:
The offense was the best in the conference last season, but that will be difficult to duplicate since quarterback Nate Davis left early for the NFL. MiQuale Lewis rushed for 1,736 yards and 22 touchdowns as a junior and should be in for a huge senior season, but he will not get the holes he got last year without the threat of a passing game or most of his offensive line. Guard Michael Switzer is the only starter returning to the line and the new quarterback could be in a lot of trouble if he cannot avoid sacks as well as Davis did in 2008. Tanner Justice was the quarterback in waiting, but now it appears like redshirt freshman Kelly Page will be starting on opening day.
The Bottom Line for the Cardinals:
Ball State took a huge step forward last year, but the loss of Coach Hoke is a big one. The new staff has to take over this program and keep them moving in the right direction. After the success of the 2008 season, 2009 is bound to be a disappointment. The Cardinals will not win their first 12 games again and Coach Parrish will take a lot of heat if the team struggles, but simply getting back to a bowl game should be all the fans expect out of this team.
By Joel Welser
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