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Cards Go Ugly Early, Knock Off Illinois State

Coach Lembo has plenty of things to harp on going forward for the Cardinals.

Coach Lembo has plenty of things to harp on going forward for the Cardinals.

The advent of social media has meant so much for the world. It’s spurned on revolutions, kept people informed during times of great tragedy or breaking news, and has let you stalk your exes relatively consequence free. Thursday night, social media proved that the Ball State fanbase as evolved from disengaged apathy to entitled success as fans the country over had what could conservatively be called a “complete meltdown” at halftime of Ball State’s season opening victory over Illinois State 51-28.

To be fair, the game looked like anything but the 23-point blowout it would become as the Cards trailed the FCS Redbirds 21-16 at the half, and it could have been so very much worse had Keith Wenning not connected with Jordan Williams for a 16-yard score just before the opening stanza expired. The five point deficit, hardly insurmountable, was met with terms like “outcoached”. Really?

The Cards certainly deserved a fair bit of ire after a defense was pushed around on an opening Redbird drive for a TD, let a fluke luck TD get scored on the next, and then gave up another just for good measure. Special teams were a mixed bag, as Jamill Smith had a monster return, but a missed extra point doesn’t leave fans in a real happy place. The offense seemed tight, the running game non-existent, and all in all, BSU was getting run out of their home stadium by a scrappy bunch of transfers and passovers from major FBS programs.

But then came halftime. Sweet glorious halftime. And the Cards never looked back. At 6 minutes to go in the game, the Cards had run off 42 straight points and I found myself hoping that whatever Brock Spack had told his team at halftime he burns that speech.

There is much to be worried about. There is also much to be hopeful for. The wise football fan will tell you that the most improvement of the season is made between game one and game two. Building on a 20+ point win over a Top 10 FCS program is a great starting point.

Some random thoughts on the win…

  • Coach Bateman took a beating on Twitter tonight. I hope fans remember that the same defense that got sliced up on the first drive is the same defense that shut ISU down for the better part of 2 quarters.
  • The offensive line turned in a solid mediocre performance. The rushing game was non-existent and that certainly needs to change. I’ll chalk this one up to just game one jitters as opposed to a much bigger problem.
  • How about that crowd?! An announced crowd of 16k+ had a tremendous student showing that didn’t just bail at halftime. For an FCS season opener, on a weeknight, I’m stoked about that. If only the greater Muncie community jumped on board. How great would that be?
  • Player of the Game without question was Willie Snead. 9 catches, 2 scores, 164 yards is exactly the kind of game I hoped he would have. But how about Jordan Williams? That kid is going to be the next big thing. Trust me. Nathan Ollie can’t be undersold either for his contributions in the 2nd half.
  • Keith Wenning had the most pedestrian 300+ yard game you’ll ever see. The stats were dominant, the visceral observation wasn’t.
  • Kyle Schmidt averaged almost 47 yards per punt. I know he got some good BSU rolls, but it looks like Punter U continues.

So all in all, it was exactly what BSU needed it to be. A win, injury-free, and plenty of things for the coaching staff to hammer home in the next week. It started ugly but ended beautifully, and that’s really all you can ask. Survive and advance, and the Cards are 1-0. After this weekend roughly half the teams in America won’t be able to say that. Final Word post coming tomorrow, but enjoy the W tonight. I know I will.

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2 Responses

  1. Ok, I may of used a few un-blogable words aimed at our defense during the first half, and the missed extra point may or may not of resulted in me appoligizing to the people in front of me. However it was the first half train wreck that proved just how good this coaching staff is and how tough these players are. I’ve seen my share of Ball State teams that would of just rolled over and quit. NOT THIS TEAM! AAA

  2. Agreed. It was a stand-up effort that was reminiscent of Hoke teams.

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