Playing the Army Black Knights this weekend was a team in desperate need of a win. It would silence the critics, relax the heat on Stan Parrish, and perhaps… just maybe… walk some fans in from the ledge that they’ve found themselves on over the first 2 games of this season. Another Saturday, another loss, and now the number of fans on that ledge increases exponentially, assuming they all haven’t went and jumped off.
In what has become a sort of ready-made refrain for games this fall, despite losing, this is a game Ball State very easily could have won. With minutes to go in the fourth quarter, the Cards found themselves tied, with the ball, though pinned deep. After an errant Kelly Page pass was returned for an Army TD, the momentum and the chance at a victory, along with hope, went right out the window.
There were some good things though… the defense played well considering the triple option attack they were defending. It’s a challenging opponent for sure, and after the first drive, it appeared to me that the defense held their own. Offensively, the wide receivers, most notably Torieal Gibson
As for the bad… the offensive line was far from dominating. Again. Which largely was the reason for Kelly Page even needing to scramble in the first place. Penalties were killers. Not so much the amount of them, just simply when they happened. Like on a Kelly Page 46-yard scramble in a tie game. Instead, it became 2nd and long, which led to an INT on 3rd down. Quale was largely ineffective, largely because of the O-line failing to open any holes. He finished with 17 yards on 12 carries.
Perhaps the largest loss was not on the scoreboard, as receiver Seth White broke his collarbone and is out for the remainder of the season. After already losing Madaris Grant, this was a team that could not afford any other injuries. White’s loss will be felt.
In terms of the game itself, this is the sort of game I expected from these Cardinals all year long. In all truthfulness, we weren’t defeated because of out of this world play from the opponents, we weren’t defeated because of a lack of preparation or gameplan, and we weren’t defeated by a coaching mistake. We were simply defeated because freshman, which is what the offense is largely composed of, played like freshman. The freshmen on the offensive line didn’t protect, block, or open holes, and the freshman taking those snaps threw three picks. Hard to defeat anyone when that happens.
Up next for this team is another road contest, this time against the Auburn Tigers. Will it be a curb stomping? Potentially. Could lightning in a bottle strike and Ball State upset the Tigers? Perhaps. For now, though, that ledge gets more and more crowded as the losses pile up.
(1-5 Stans, 1 being happy as a Matlock marathon
5 being like Marsh ran out of Metamucil)
Despite the improvement, a loss is still a loss, and at 0-3 with a trip to Auburn looming, the Stan-O-Meter shows no signs of dwindling.