MUNCIE – It’s not every Saturday that you can venture out to Scheumann Stadium and have gorgeous spring weather, pads popping, and fans celebrating touchdowns, QB pressure, and deep bombs. You could have enjoyed all that and more this weekend in Muncie as Ball State wrapped up its spring football practice season with the annual rite of passage known as the Spring Game. A modified scoring system, meant to measure all facets of the game, saw the defense defeat the offense by a score of 44-22, surprising no one, confusing most of us in the press box, and perhaps leaving more questions than answers which wasn’t unexpected.
1,356 fans ventured out for the spring game, giving the Cardinals the highest-attended spring game at the time in the MAC. It feels nice to be wrong about attendance for once on the good side of the spectrum, as Jason got the answer of “around 500” when he asked me on the drive up what I thought the number would be. Kudos to the athletics marketing staff, the team, and the students that stuck around for the chance to watch it. A good portion of the fans were families and local-ites, and that’s always been sort of the missing subgroups at BSU games. Let’s hope the great weather and good atmosphere drew them in for good.
If you didn’t make it, here’s what my takeaways were for the outing…
- The biggest strength of the team given today’s performance save for one 71-yard Jack Milas pass was the defensive unit. I can’t say that was a surprise, given the new faces all over the offensive side of the ball, but it was surprising to see such a difference in performance. The offense was held without a touchdown, both passing and rushing were a bit stagnant, and all in all it was a major win and presumable confidence boost for a defensive unit that needs to be the statement unit come fall.
- As for QB play, my question of the day was whether Jack Milas or Ozzie Mann would get more snaps or passing attempts as who will be QB1 is arguably the biggest battle of the spring. Milas got more passing opportunity, going 10-26 for 144 yards while Mann went 7-12 for 43 yards. In fairness, the aforementioned 71-yarder by Milas meant the numbers are a little skewed. Kyle Kamman and David Morrison also took reps, and all of the four had goods and bads to point to.
- The running back stable is stocked as well, with Quake Edwards and Teddy Williamson each putting up similar numbers (13 att and 26 yards for Edwards; 10 attempts and 20 yards for Williamson). Fans should keep in mind that Horactio Banks will be back in the fall as well after tearing his ACL last year and not participating in spring practice.
- The most impressive player on the defensive side of the ball for me was redshirt freshman rush end Anthony Winbush. He was able to make the most of a reshuffled defensive front thanks to the absences of Carlu Zaramo, Blake Dueitt, and Mike Ayers.The defensive line unknowns along with a late hire of defensive coordinator Kevin Kelly and line coach Nick Siatras had me concerned, but that unit appears to be reloading rather than rebuilding.
- Interestingly enough, I didn’t see 5th year senior and incumbent starting place kicker Scott Secor attempt a field goal, but new face Cody Dickson went 3-3, hitting from 18, 28, and 37. Dickson is a senior from Carmel who sat out last season as a redshirt after transferring from Iowa Western Community College. I don’t know whether that will make a decision hard for the coaching staff given Secor’s prolific career at BSU, but having depth at a critical position is a good. Flashbacks to Ian McGarvey and Jake Hogue, if you will.
- I had a chance to chat a bit with Joey Lynch after the game, and I can see why he does such a good job in recruiting and getting those letters of intent signatures. Very personable, extremely engaging, and just a good guy.
- The highlight of the afternoon for me wasn’t a football related thing at all. At halftime, there was an Easter egg hunt on the north end zone lawn. I have never seen such a mixture of mass anarchy, chaos, enthusiasm, and sheer joy that I witnessed on the faces of the kids. Bottle that and you have a winner.
With this, the spring season comes to a close and all we have now is four months or so of nothing. No practices, no scrimmages, no recruiting, nothing really BSU focused at all. Most eyes should turn to the NFL Draft as we’re a little under three weeks away from that and determining the future of several notable Cards. Stay tuned to OTP for quite a bit of NFL coverage going forward and some more spring game reaction including some great video.