Saturday marked the beginning of the post-Wenning era in Ball State football, and though the flash and pizazz were different, like most games of the last three years, the Cardinals walked out with a W. It was more ground and pound than air it out offensively, and the opponent was far from marquee, but it wasn’t too long ago that a victory over an FCS team was something the Cardinals couldn’t grab (hello, Liberty and New Hampshire) so let’s not get too picky with where we get our Ws, mmmkay?
For the Cardinals, as expected, the offense was more the Jahwan Edwards/Horactio Banks show en route to 514 total yards and 311 on the ground. Darian Green and Teddy Williamson each had 7 carries as well, so it is plain to see that the Cardinals may be as loaded in the backfield as they were in 2008 with Quale Lewis and Corey Sykes. The premier of Ozzie Mann wasn’t jaw dropping but also wasn’t crippling or mistake-laden, and in all honesty, that’s exactly the kind of performance Mann needs to shoot for every week. His line of 20/32 for 203 yards, 2 TDs, and an INT won’t win many games by itself, but it does open up the run game, and doesn’t shoot the Cards in the foot. The receiving corps was the KeVonn Mabon show as the redshirt sophomore grabbed ten catches for 110 yards and a TD. Six Cardinals caught passes Saturday.
Defensively, the Cards were unbelievable and record-setting. Allowing only 227 total yards and 9 first downs, BSU made a statement that the defense may be the bus driver this season. That single digit first down mark? The lowest total in 14 years (CMU in 2000 had 8). Colgate’s 10 points was the lowest scored by any Cardinal opponent in the Pete Lembo era. There are built-in rationales that some will use to write off this performance like how Colgate is FCS, etc. and that may be true. But in my mind, you hold a team to the lowest number of first downs in 14 seasons, and that’s a damn fine way for the Kevin Kelly era to start in Muncie on the defensive side of the ball.
The day wasn’t without a few negative notes, most notably the injury of Jordan Williams who hurt his ankle, was on crutches, and no news has come out about. So there’s that. Additionally, a home opener that only draws 9600 fans is absolutely pitiful and if I was Pete Lembo I would be apoplectic about the lack of local support, student support, and alumni support. Yet again, proving that BSU fans want a champagne program on a beer budget with bathtub wine support. Absolutely pathetic.
So, all told, a pretty enjoyable Saturday for BSU fans. The Cards improve to 4-0 in Lembo-led season openers and that win marked the 17th win in their last 19 regular season games. To get to 18 out of 20, the Cards will need to knock off Iowa on the road next Saturday. The Hawkeyes opened their season this previous weekend by squeaking out a 31-23 win over Northern Iowa. That contest saw the Hawkeyes give up 203 yards receiving to UNI’s running back, so I hope Quake and Banks spend some time with Ozzie this week. Kickoff on Saturday is at 3:30, and you can catch the game on ESPN2. We’ll also be running a Liveblog for it so get yourself ready for that.