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Cards Open MAC Play, World Hangs in Balance

kevin2So here’s the deal. Saturday, Ball State opens MAC play against EMU. Channel your inner Kevin Hart and repeat after me…. MAC Opener. Road Game. Ypsilanti. Grey field. No fans. Suck ass team. One pillow. No pillowcase. It’s getting real up in here.

Suffice to say after a somewhat disappointing performance against VMI that ended up closer than any of us liked, would have expected, or could extrapolate anything from followed by an ass thrashing at the hands of A&M that ended up closer than it probably should have been and giving us nothing to extrapolate out from the performance. It’s not been a fun week around OTP Manor. Do we take positive away from the A&M game? Do we bring up the fact that there is literally no inclination of who is going to start at QB when the game opens for the Cardinals on Saturday? Do we just sit and rock ourselves back and forth and whisper to ourselves that things are going to be ok? WHO KNOWS?!? BLOGGING IS HARD! STOP YELLING!

Realistically, I have no idea what to expect tomorrow. If FutureAlan came to me and told me the Cards laid the word to EMU and I celebrated into the early evening, I wouldn’t be surprised. If FutureAlan came to me and told me that aforementioned wood got laid to the Cards, I would be equally as non-shocked. All I know, is tomorrow is the first game of the year that we will be able to take anything away from in order to plan ahead for the 2015 season. 3:00pm tomorrow, and we’re comin’ in hot.

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A&M 56, Ball State 23

You know what’s awesome? Puppies. Puppies are great. Wet noses, joyous inquisition, exceptional loyalty all making them the best damn pet anyone could ever hope to have. Puppies are great, man. They are just the wonderful amazement that you’ve come to know and love. Aces, man. Aces.

The pooch of OTP Manor, Wilbur

The pooch of OTP Manor, Wilbur

Also, CPL tried his damnedest to poopoo all over the point spread which I’m sure increased the pucker factor for all of you degenerates betting on a BSU game. So props to him. More tomorrow.

 

The Official Ball State v. Texas A&M OTP Drinking Game

There seems to be an undercurrent through the Ball State fanbase that the Cardinals are in for tough sledding in College Station this weekend as they take on the Aggies of Texas A&M. Making the day-long drive to the Lonestar State to be amongst your Cardinal brethren? Well that’s wonderful for you. But if you aren’t going to the game and are looking for a way to enjoy some frosty beverages with Cardinal fans, then this drinking game should be right up your alley. Play it in a parking lot if you want the true tailgate experience. Let us know on Twitter how it goes with the hashtag #BSUDrink. Play responsible and all that jazz…

Drinking Game-2

Click to make bigger, print it out, tape it to the wall, go nuts.

Eat Like the Cardinals. On Second Thought, Don’t Do That

Ever wonder what football players eat to keep themselves in prime physical shape? I can tell you that based on personal results, it most certainly isn’t copious amounts of Bud Light and Taco Bell. That makes you a lot less college athlete and a lot more fat bastard, but I never had Dave Feeley telling me what to eat, how to eat, when to eat, and how to feel while doing it. And then banging out a 600 pound deadlift. THANKS A LOT, FEELEY.

BSU All Access dropped the below this week about the eating habits of your favorite football team. Enjoy…

Christ almighty, I bet with the fuel points on that order, they are paying the coaching staff to fill up. I also noticed a significant lack of pizza rolls, Pop Tarts, and bacon. College athletes have a hard life, man.

Why Texas A&M Shouldn’t Worry Ball State Fans At All

The new Kyle Field, which is nice, I guess, if you're into brand new awesome stadiums.

The new Kyle Field, which is nice, I guess, if you’re into brand new awesome stadiums.

Remember in high school when you were totally and completely enamored with a fellow student of the female persuasion? In your eyes, she was perfect. Long flowing locks, mesmerizing tranquil eyes, and a personality that made you want to be a better man. You probably got nervous around her. She’d walk by, maybe even speak to you, and immediately your palms would start to sweat, the hair on your neck stood up, your mouth got dry, and you just stood there like a nervous, sweaty-palmed, hairy neck yoyo while she tooted on down the hallway.

In some respects, the same could be said for Texas A&M as Ball State fans read up on the next opponent for the Cardinals. The Aggies are the belle of the ball from week one, absolutely manhandling Arizona State and going from unranked to #16. The Aggies are opening up a new stadium, which could fit approximately five capacity Scheumann Stadium crowds. They will have a loud and boisterous crowd, a robust tailgate situation, a two-deep littered with 5 star (out of high school) recruits, and a coach that has been on a meteoric ride to the top of his profession. Are your palms sweaty yet? That hair on your neck standing up, Teen Wolf?

Let me let you in on a little secret. A&M is good, yes. They could be great. But you know, they are human just like the rest of us. They piss on the toilet seat and consider not cleaning it off just like you and me. I hope someone has shared that with the team. I hope someone has also shared some Clorox wipes for the locker room if that’s the case. But it’s also important for the fans to remember. A&M and their inherent mortality is quite like the aforementioned chick from high school, who ended up not being all that perfect after all. Sweaty palms aren’t a thing when you find out she’s slinging chunked and smothered hash browns at a Waffle House and probably giving out handies behind the dumpster.

1-0 is 1-0: The Good, Bad, and Ugly for BSU vs VMI

Jordan Williams, always a star (Credit: BSU Photo Services)

Jordan Williams, always a star (Credit: BSU Photo Services)

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.

Some Thoughts on Gameday, Why Some Media Are the Worst

Pete wears his sunglasses at night, so he can, so he can.

Pete wears his sunglasses at night, so he can, so he can.

Remember that long stretch of time from January to August known as the offseason? Yeah… that’s thankfully over. Tonight at 7, your Ball State Cardinals take the field at Scheumann Stadium for the opening salvo in the 2015 campaign, heretofore known as “The Greatest Show on Turf”. The Cards’ opponent, FCS member and 2014 Southern Conference cellar-dwellar Virginia Military Institute, in theory (and in relative practice, as well) is overmatched, outgunned, and over their heads. It’s not fandom. It’s science. The opener is the great unknown but let’s look at some facts..

  • BSU is a significantly older and more experienced team than 2014, a team that started rough and ended strong.
  • Jack Milas has had all winter, all spring, all summer, and all fall camp to come to grips with the fact that this is his team. As Milas goes, so goes the Cardinals as is the case with most MAC schools and their QB.
  • The skill positions are deep and talented, perhaps more so than any other time in the Lembo era.
  • The defense, much maligned in 2014 after the successful showing in the season-opener, has had a year in the Kevin Kelly system. Secondary depth is a concern, but it’s not a worry. Yet.
  • Last I checked, Pete Lembo is still on the sidelines in Muncie. As has become the corporate motto around these parts, In Lembo We Trust.

Of course most of the above seems to be missed by the people “in the know”. They have cited things like the new staff at VMI having some tricks up their sleeves, BSU’s loss to Indiana State last year, and apparently watching a different 2014 season than I was as they use words like “disappointing” or “letdown” to evaluate the Cardinals’ 2014 campaign. God, most media are the absolute worst. If it wasn’t for Ben Breiner or Tom Davis, I’d have to start Rock Bottoming people in the Scheumann Media Center.

I could tell you that VMI isn’t Indiana State as the chip on their shoulder isn’t boulder-sized. I could reference the above 5 points as reason to not cower in a puddle of our own peepee about the mighty VMI Keydets. I could explain how 5-7 last year, given some of the issues that the 2014 Cardinals were undertaking in staff turnover, player attrition, and talent loss to the NFL was somewhere between exactly what I expected and better than, but all that would be a waste of air for “media” who apparently have nothing better to do than listen to their own lips flap in the breeze as they spew forth opinions that aren’t worth the Charmin extra soft they wipe their bottoms with.

It’s become plain to me that in accepting a new role in the job that actually pays the bills, our Cardinal coverage has suffered and allowed for the signal to get clouded by the noise. Now that it is fall, now that I’ve moved, now that I’m back, that will no longer be an issue. For the media and other sites who thought that that was an opportunity to elbow their way in to the adult table, play time is over and your fifteen minutes are up. Hope you enjoyed your stay.

OTP Pick:
VMI 17
BSU 41

Ball State Gets New Helmets

For years I’ve said numerous things about my alma mater. I’ve called it “The Harvard of the Midwest”, the “Harvard of Indiana”, “The Harvard of East Central Indiana”, and “The Harvard of Delaware County”. Maybe I was looking at schools too far east, as Ball State and more importantly for this site, the football program, has laid claim to be “The Oregon of the MAC” with some new alternate helmet designs. To the YouTubes…

Do you know why this is awesome? First of all, the helmets look sharp and they aren’t gaudy. Remember when IU football unveiled their new helmets? Yeah, me too. The amount of celebration and britches-messin’ that happened over shoddy designs and Indiana flag helmets made me want to grab the nearest sharp object and jam it into one of numerous orifices. More important than that, though, is that this catches the Cards up with other programs and speaks to the overarching theme that there are numerous pieces of evidence that the program has some money heading its way from the institution.

The .edu crowd (to borrow from Colin Cowherd) likes to make statements about the economics of football and how that money is wasted on boorish pursuits like football and sports in general, so investing in these instead of Bunson burners or test tubes probably pissed off some tweed sports coat wearing dude so that’s a nice little win-win.

The more things I can point to that shows that this university is equally as concerned about things that actually increase the national prominence of the institution no matter how bad the .edu crowd wishes that wasn’t the case makes me a happy guy. Kudos to the BSU equipment guys for making this a reality.

Post-Derby Thoughts on the Ozzie Mann Transfer News

CPL and Ozzie Football after the Indiana State debacle (Photo credit Alaina Jaye Halsey)

CPL and Ozzie Football after the Indiana State debacle (Photo credit Alaina Jaye Halsey)

The first weekend in May is one of the only weekends of the year when my sporting attention is almost entirely focused elsewhere. As a native Kentuckian, there are few moments when people are inquisitive about my home commonwealth in a positive manner instead of the usual, “Do you wear shoes?” or “Do you enjoy mayonnaise sandwiches?”  sort of witty repartee I usually endure. Derby Weekend is that weekend. The splendor of the horses, the possibility of getting rich, the inherent caste system that exists at the track, and the free-flowing booze are just some of the reasons why sports eyes the world over, and especially mine, focus on Louisville on the first Saturday in May.

So it was a little out of character for me to even be checking email on Derby Saturday, but with the release of Ozzie Mann’s transfer news, my Derby Saturday took a small little detour. If you’re following the Pylon on the OTPcast (and you should here on itunes or Stitcher, because it’s awesome) you’ll know that Jason and I talked a little about this potential thing a few weeks ago. The Cardinal QB backfield was a crowded place as is with Jack Milas, Ozzie Mann, and David Morrison. And let’s not forget that true freshman Riley Neal is coming in this summer. I believe my exact words were, “I’d be surprised if all of those QBs were still on the roster when fall camp opens” and sure enough that has happened with Ozzie Mann announcing he is transferring from Ball State effective immediately.

On the surface and in a visceral way, it’s a loss for the program as depth at the QB position is always a nice thing to have. Some will point to Mann’s inability to hold on to the starter’s job last season as some sort of indictment on his talent or skills, and that would be a foolish thing to do. Mann at the dawn of 2014 had a perfect storm of factors beyond his control come into play that made him succeeding difficult if not outright impossible. I don’t think I am the only one to think the first few games of 2014 had exceptionally pedestrian playcalling with a team in search of its identity.

Quake found it hard to be the playmaker we all knew possible when defenses knew that was about all the Cardinals had to go on when Jordan Williams got dinged up in the season opener. At some level, it just seemed that the team under Ozzie’s command was just cursed. Everything that could have went wrong went wrong for BSU, as games that were one possession affairs we had all grown used to winning in the early Lembo years now all went the opposition’s way. Whether that was new coordinators, new skill players, injuries, or just bad juju left over from the successful years before it is anyone’s guess. But what isn’t up for debate is whether or not it was all Ozzie. It wasn’t. Though Cards fans who want to think so will point to one game: Indiana State.

To call the Cards’ loss to the Sycamores anything other than a complete and abject failure would be to ignore the obvious. We wrote as much last fall. Fans will point to the fact that the Cards lost to the Sycamores as some sort of litmus test for the Ozzie Football experiment. Others will point to the confusion and chaos on the last play that resulted in time expiring and Ozzie’s inability to either get out of bounds or throw it out of the end zone, but to focus solely on that would be ridiculous. There was more than enough blame to go around to peg all of it on a relatively new starter who set personal career marks for yards, completions, and attempts in that particular outing.

So the book on Ozzie Mann in Muncie closes before it really got going, but can you really blame him? The writing was/is on the wall that his ability to start, to lead, and to win as QB1 was only coming if those above him on the depth chart couldn’t fulfill their duties and those below him didn’t overtake him. You can’t fault an athlete, a competitor, a warrior, for wanting to be the person who succeeds or fails on their own. It’s what got him to Muncie and on the roster in the first place. We’ll be rooting for Ozzie wherever he lands, and wish him well on his transfer process.

New Ball State Football Field Design Released

If you follow any of the social media accounts even remotely connected to Ball State football then you should be aware that in the last week or so since the spring game, the field turf at Scheumann Stadium has been getting removed to make way for a new field. Yesterday saw the official release of the design that’s going on the field turf…

Field_I.2

Unless I’m missing something the key differences are the black and red ringing the field and the end zones being red fill with white text, whereas now there is no ring at all, and the end zones are just red lettering. It’s a clean design, it’s not crazy different (a la Eastern Washington’s all red turf that makes your eyes bleed), and most importantly: it’s something new. Positives all around. Your thoughts?