If you’re new to the Pylon, you wouldn’t know that my mantra for any season-opener (when it isn’t Indiana University) is no injuries, get the win. So for that, Ball State’s 48-36 victory over VMI last night was a roaring success. The Cardinals did in fact get the win and they are not in fact a walking wounded unit to show for it. In the words of Borat, “Great success!”. You’d be hard pressed, however, to find any Cardinal faithful who walks away from last night’s win with more answers than questions about the 2015 season.
To deal with the bad first, there were stretches of play last night where the Cardinals did not look like a team that would go .500. Play calling was suspect, defensive front-line pressure was almost there but in no way good enough to compete at an FBS level, the secondary got burned on several plays, and the offensive line failed to absolutely manhandle a significantly smaller and less experienced VMI defensive front seven as was expected. Many times under pressure, Jack Milas looked overwhelmed and under-skilled to compete at a championship caliber level in the Mid American Conference.
But let’s say you like your glass half-full and choose to focus on the good. You’d definitely begin your “good” with Darian Green, who ties a school record with four TDs (three rushing, one receiving) and showed what the future of BSU special teams is going to look like. You’d probably want to mention the cast of Cardinal running backs with Green, Teddy Williamson, and James Gilbert, any one of whom would be a starter at most other programs. You’d want to focus on an offense that set the ninth highest total output in school history with a QB making just his 7th collegiate start. Speaking of Milas, he set career records for attempts, completions, and yards and avoided being sacked all night. You’d also want to make note of a defensive unit that despite new faces and an unknown offensive opposition were able to create turnovers that led directly to a BSU touchdown, and also created a sizable amount of havoc in the backfield for VMI, even if those busted plays ended up positively. You’d also want to notice Kyle Schmidt, who put all four of his punts inside the 20, flipping the field for the Cardinals.
In truth, there was no ugly in last night’s game. The new turf looked sharp, the new helmets looked camouflage-y, and even the fans in attendance, of which VMI had plenty, looked energetic and excited to be there, clearing the 10,000 mark in attendance.
So what do we take away from last night’s opener for next week’s showdown in College Station, Texas against the Texas A&M Aggies? I guess like all things in life, that depends on your perspective…
The Positive Approach: CPL and the staff kept things pedestrian and vanilla in order to lull the Aggies into a misplaced sense of confidence against a little ol’ MAC school that got played close by an FCS team. It’s the home-opener at the new Kyle Field, and the Aggies will be fat dumb and happy, drunk off pregame festivities and fan-lauding as 102,000+ people will cram into the new facility to cheer their gladiators on to victory. JOKE’S ON YOU, TEXAS PEOPLE. Milas and the offense were just playing opossum as they romp and stomp through the Lonestar State to 2-0. Jordan Williams leaves fans in mouth-agape shock, children in tears, and the A&M dog mascot pissing on the cheer captains. CPL is offered a contract immediately to a host of other SEC schools, he chuckles, rips it up, and kisses Kevin Sumlin’s wife square on the lips and doesn’t apologize. It’s good to be a Cardinal fan.
The Negative Approach: Last night was the new normal. The offense is anemic, the defense is incompetent, the special teams not special at all, and they’ll be lucky to win two games. Pete Lembo? More like Pete NotGonnaWinMuchThisYearbo. The playcalling was trash and Joey Lynch needs to be fired, his diploma revoked, his pictures taken off the walls in the football complex. Scrap his dad’s records too while we’re at it. Kevin Kelly couldn’t coordinate his way out of a piss-soaked paper sack and the new helmets look like they were a giveaway from a public television annual fundraiser gone wrong. The sky is falling, Trump is ahead in the polls, and A&M is going to beat our bitch asses blue. We might as well save the money on travel and just forfeit. Hell, might as well chuck in the towel for the rest of the games, too.
Either way, the Cards are 1-0 on the season and beat the FCS team on the schedule. That hasn’t always been the case in some recent years. Was it perfect? Nope. Was it a W? Yep. And frankly, that was the goal for last night, good, bad, or otherwise.