COLLEGE FOOTBALL PREVIEW: BALL STATE
July 13, 2012Eastern Indiana Sports
In Pete Lembo’s first year at the helm, Ball State showed marked improvement on offense. The Cardinals jumped into the middle of the MAC pack in all categories.
While it’s fair to expect Ball State’s no-huddle spread attack to make further gains in 2012 — with seven returning starters on the field — Lembo and offensive coordinator Rich Skrosky spent the offseason hammering home the need for more explosiveness. The Cardinals’ longest run in 2011 (not including a fake punt) went for 28 yards. Just one pass went for more than 51 yards. “The thing we lacked last year was the big plays,” Lembo says.
Lembo saw sophomore running back Jahwan Edwards playing a half-step faster in the spring. He noticed junior slot receiver Jamill Smith and sophomore split end Willie Snead being more elusive. And junior quarterback Keith Wenning, who threw for 2,786 yards and 19 TDs last year and owns 22 consecutive starts, appeared ready to make another jump. “His improvement from freshman to sophomore year speaks for itself,” Lembo says. “The goal for Keith is to put himself in the upper echelon of quarterbacks in the conference.”
Wenning will benefit from one of the MAC’s best offensive lines — a veteran group that gave up just 11 sacks. Led by junior Jordan Hansel, a second-team All-MAC selection at guard, every returnee started at least five games last season. Senior Dan Manick, who started all 12 games at tackle, has shifted to center to solidify the middle. Lembo believes senior guard Kitt O’Brien could have an NFL future.