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Final Word: Indiana State

The Final Word 200I took Sunday completely off from football. Mostly because the one day round trip from my home outside Lexington, KY to Muncie is a doozy but also to hopefully find some sort of perspective or insight into why Saturday happened, how to be at least somewhat positive going forward, and where to go from here. What I found was quite honestly the same feeling I had on Saturday walking out of Scheumann Stadium, insomuch as Indiana State was considerably better than I thought they were and for the time being, this version of Ball State is not as skillful in their execution as I expected and the fanbase as a whole has grown accustomed to.

People were quick to howl a Chicken Little-esque “The sky is falling!” sort of refrain after the game, pointing to the woes of 2009 as some sort of charted course that this team is following after another remarkable season with a roster cherry-picked by the NFL. To adopt that mantra would be overlooking some pretty critical things though, like how the starters on the offensive line for 2014 may be similar in talent and experience to 2009, but the level of depth in 2014 blows ’09 away. Logically, depth would usually mean a more competitive practice environment, more options for the coaching staff should skill not translate to the game, and so on.

Speaking of practice, the underlying message from Coach Pete Lembo after the Indiana State game seemed to be that this version of the team isn’t using practice time as effectively as possible, and more importantly, expecting the games to go the way they have for the last three seasons. And who can blame them, really? Ask yourself if for the prior years in the Pete Lembo Experience if given a one score game, two minutes to go, and the ball you’d even be the least bit worried?

I understand that fans and student athletes are markedly different. The sheer make up of both is what makes them what they are. Student athletes beat on tires in Coach Feeley’s dungeon. Fans grill brats in the parking lot and do 12 ounce curls over and over on gameday. But neither group is immune to the pratfalls of the other. Student athletes had an upclose view as this program turned itself around over the last few years. Why wouldn’t they believe? Why wouldn’t “The Process” yield the same sort of results? I can’t blame them for thinking it. I do think Saturday served as a painful reminder to both that this team and last year’s team is vastly different. Even CPL said as much post-game. “We’re at where we’re at, folks. Nobody’s happy.”

So, your final word for Saturday’s Indiana State loss…

confounding (v., present participle)
cause surprise or confusion in (someone), especially by acting against their expectations

Some other thoughts and notes on the loss…

  • In the last 21 games, this was only Ball State’s 4th loss. Whatever you may be feeling about Saturday, that sort of perspective is important
  • The loss snapped a nine-game home winning streak at The Scheu
  • Ozzie Mann set career records in completions (24), attempts (46), and yards (266). Whether or not you believe a redshirt sophomore quarterback who has had some accuracy issues this season should have been throwing it 46 times is another story
  • In the three-game stretch of Colgate, Iowa, and Indiana State, BSU has allowed just 247 total rushing yards. That’s the lowest three-game total since October 2009 (Toledo, Temple, BG: 242)
  • Speaking of defense, the 54 points the unit has allowed to start this season is the lowest through three games since the 1995 season.
  • Quake Edwards currently sits 432 yards away from being Ball State’s career rushing leader

2 Responses

  1. ISU is an improved team this year. I knew they would be tough but still expected a win. Hell, everyone did really especially the way BSU played the first two games. Going into the season, most people expected a step back but then those two games gave us hope that it wasn’t that far back. This game brought us back to reality. So yeah, I was bitter at first and the game hurt…still does. But being more calm now, I can look at this with some perspective and know that we still have a lot of good going for the team and trust in Lembo and company. The expectations are able to be reset back to a sane level. I think it’s completely normal and fair to cry the sky is falling at least initially because of simple shock. Just look at all the Iowa fans that left before the game doing their best impression of a MAC stadium. This will hopefully only add incentive to the team now though. Losing this game was honestly probably the best thing for us really. Winning would have been nice sure but in the long run, it wouldn’t have helped us with a bowl bid since only one FCS school counts. One final thought though, I know you keep defending Mann and he has been doing a fine job, but I think you have to agree that accuracy significantly decreases the deeper he passes. He’s missed a lot of open targets down field in all three games. The deep threat MUST present itself….sooner rather than later hopefully. Anyway, go Cardinals!

  2. Very true, Josh. I think when Jordan Williams gets back healthy and folks can resume their natural positions things will improve.

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