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Cardinal Senior Send Off: Defense

This is the second of a 2 part series evaluating the losses to graduation that Ball State will face before we get to the incoming players and prospects in our Cardinal Recruiting Series beginning next week. Thanks for your blood, sweat, and tears gentlemen. It’s truly appreciated. The next unit up? The defense.

Name: Spain Cosby
Number: 48
Position: MLB
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 222
Career Stats: 47 games, 1 start. 73tkls, 4.5 TFL, 2 forced fumbles, played in all but 4 games throughout his career.
Replaceability: While Spain Cosby was not the standout defensive playmaker that would have generated attention and headlines, he was a very solid player for this Cardinal defense, as well as having the unenviable task of switching to a totally new format in his senior season.

Name: Brandon Crawford
Number: 90
Position: DE
Height: 6’3″
Weight: 260
Career Stats: 49 games, 39 starts. 138 tkls, 37.5 TFL, 9 forced fumbles, 15 sacks.
Replaceability: Arguably the Cardinals’ biggest loss on the defensive side of the football, Brandon Crawford was not only a very talented player and defensive standout, he was also a great story. The definition of non-traditional college student, Crawford was a leader on and off the field for the Cardinals, a trait that will be sorely missed next season in addition to his on-field prowess and success.

Name: Drew Duffin
Number: 65
Position: DT
Height: 6’3″
Weight: 266
Career Stats: 48 games played, 23 starts. 129 tkls, 14.5 TFL, 1 forced fumble, 2.5 sacks
Replaceability: As a defensive tackle, Drew Duffin used his agility, speed, and power to his advantage, wreaking havoc in the backfield and on opposing offenses. Duffin was also a sure tackler, seldom letting a back get past his first contact. Duffin, while not as celebrated as Crawford, will be missed on this defensive unit next season.

Name: Alex Knipp
Number: 38
Position: FS
Height: 6’0″
Weight: 200
Career Stats: 51 games played, 37 starts. 293 tkls, 6.0 TFL, 1 sack, 9 INTs, 23 pass deflections, 2 forced fumbles.
Replaceability: Knipp comprised half of arguably the best defensive safety corps in the MidAmerican Conference. Potentially the second most important loss after Crawford, Knipp takes with him not only a wealth of experience, but also strong leadership, and pass defense acumen, an area that the Cardinals struggled a bit in this past year.

Name: Kyle Kuntz
Number: 9
Position: FS
Height: 5’10”
Weight: 197
Career Stats: 46 games, 1 start. 37 tkls, 1 fumble recovery.
Replaceability: Another role player for the Cardinals, or someone capable of filling in when needed for either a breather for the starter or an extra defensive back, Kuntz made the most of his limited opportunities in Cardinal and White. Kuntz was used sparingly in his first three seasons, though did manage special teams appearances in his junior season. Kuntz also picked perhaps the biggest stage of the year for his coming out party as his first career start was in 2009 at Auburn.

Name: Sam Woodworth
Number: 55
Position: LB
Height: 6’2″
Weight: 215
Career Stats: 38 games, 4 starts. 88 tkls, 4.5 TFL, 2 sacks
Replaceability: Another example of being needed when called on and filling in where needed is Sam Woodworth. Throughout his career at BSU, he was used sparingly and in spot relief, but Woodworth rarely disappointed and gave the BSU defense a viable and serviceable second option for the linebacking unit, a unit that in 2009 was in desperate need of help from anyone able.

Defensive Recap
Players Lost: 6
Staters Lost: 3

While the defensive unit by number alone didn’t suffer overwhelming losses, it was more about who they lost rather than the quantity. Not only did the defensive unit lose stalwarts like Crawford or Duffin, or shut down coverage guys like Knipp and Kuntz, they also lost the most serviceable backups and spot relievers. The good news is as younger players begin to fill their roles and roster spots, they are players who have more experience in addition to yet another spring with this staff and this scheme.

In terms of recruiting, an overwhelming majority of the Cardinals’ 19 commitments are defensive players, and if Stan and staff have shown anything, it’s that they are not opposed to putting green players in to see how they respond.

Going forward for the Cardinals, the defensive intensity of the Hoke years need to be matched with the hopeful familiarity and expertise with this new defensive system and scheme. The transition to the 4-3 from the previously installed Hokian 3-4 took its toll on defensive production this season, but 2010 may very well show a refocused and recommitted defensive unit to match the optimistic outlooks for the offense.

Cardinal Senior Send Off: Offense

This is the first of a 2 part series evaluating the losses to graduation that Ball State will face before we get to the incoming players and prospects in our Cardinal Recruiting Series beginning next week. Thanks for your blood, sweat, and tears gentlemen. It’s truly appreciated. The first unit up? The offense.

Name: Jordan Applegate
Number: 70
Position: C
Height: 6’5″
Weight: 300
Career Stats: 5 games played, 0 games started.
Replaceability: Jordan Applegate, a convert from defensive tackle to center after his freshman season, didn’t see much field time during his career in Cardinal and White, spelling folks when needed, and perhaps becoming a victim of poor timing and stacked talent in front of him on the offensive line for the majority of his career. Applegate came in one year after the emergence of talents like Dan Gerberry, Robert Brewster, and Andre Ramsey, who now find themselves playing on Sundays in the NFL. With Kreg Hunter emerging this year as the center of choice for Parrish and the Cards, the offensive line will not lose an integral piece.

Name: Chad Davis
Number: 69
Position: OT
Height: 6’3″
Weight: 280
Career Stats: 3 games played, 0 games started.
Replaceability: Former walk on Chad Davis never saw much action for the Cardinals, and like many offensive line folks over the past several seasons, that can be attributed more to the stellar class ahead of him and the need to get young players ready in classes behind him. Though a bit undersized for BCS level offensive linemen, Davis’ story is yet another of several on this roster of folks who made it to this level more so for effort and determination instead of God-given ability.

Name: Tanner Justice
Number: 17
Position: QB
Height: 6’3″
Weight: 205
Career Stats: 35 games played, 5 starts. 56-111 passing, 648 yds, 5 INTs, 2 TDs.
Replaceability: Justice was the unfortunate victim of circumstance in 2009, as Kelly Page’s injury against Bowling Green. Justice would go on to start the final 5 games for Ball State, leading the team to two wins in the process. Considering Justice was a career back up, he played serviceable for the Cardinals, and was the starter in every win in the 09 campaign. Going forward, the Cardinals have depth at the QB position unlike recent years, as Page will return to a starter role, and Aaron Mershman (on redshirt in 09) will compete for reps as well.

Offensive Recap

Players Lost: 3
Staters Lost: 0

While technically a “starter” in that he started several games, Justice was only in that particular depth chart slot because of Page’s injury. As such, he gets ruled a back up by the highly scientific process of OTP. On paper, and assuming this holds, this is quite the opposite of last year, which saw 10 players, 6 of whom were starters, bid Muncie adieu. The key element to that statement above is “assuming this holds”.

Currently, there are two offensive weapons that are multi-year starters and holding their breath (figuratively) to hear from the NCAA regarding a medical redshirt and a 6th year of eligibility. TE Madaris Grant and RB MiQuale Lewis both are awaiting a decision from Indianapolis that not only has ramifications for them, but also Ball State. Assuming the best, that both Quale and Grant are back next season, this Cardinal offense looks to be potent. With another year of seasoning for Kelly Page, the return of the 3rd best rusher in Ball State history, as well as the offensive line with a year of seasoning and offseason work, Ball State looks to be markedly improved on the offensive side of the football.

The most interesting dynamic for this offense to manage will be the sheer number of returning starters and how Parrish and company manage to keep everyone happy and productive. As we saw this season, the Cardinal backfield is an exceptionally crowded place. On the recruiting trail for the Cardinals, there were no specific holes to fill on the offensive side of the ball, but the Cardinals have managed 8 verbal commitments for the offense. The highest rated prospect from Scout.com is TE David Schneider from Moeller High School in Cincinnati.

Cardinal Senior Send Off: Offense

This is the second of a 2 part series evaluating the losses to graduation that Ball State will face before we get to the incoming players and prospects in our Cardinal Recruiting Series beginning next week. Thanks for your blood, sweat, and tears gentlemen. It’s truly appreciated. The final installment… the offense.

Name: Robert Brewster
Number: 71
Position: OT
Height: 6′ 5″
Weight: 310
Career Stats: 50 GP/50 GS
Replaceability: Brewster has started every game he’s been on campus for, most of which were at right tackle (with the exception of a 7-game stint at right guard). Brewster is one of many graduating off of a dominating offensive line that not only blocked well enough to keep Nate Davis out of trouble, but opened enough holes to make MiQuale Lewis a 1000-yard back. That sort of size, experience, and toughness doesn’t come along everyday. Brewster finished 2008 on the All MAC First Team.

Name: Chris Clancy
Number: 27
Position: TE
Height: 6′ 2″
Weight: 231
Career Stats: 41 GP/5 GS, 18 rec, 135 yds, 2 TD, 47 car, 299 yds, 2 TD, 6 Tkls
Replaceability: Clancy was the victim of simple overcrowding at the tight end position, and as such, bounced around many different positions during his career. Spent time at halfback, tight end, and even on defense for parts of his sophomore and junior campaigns.

Name: Adam Cole
Number: 58
Position: OT
Height: 6′ 6″
Weight: 278
Career Stats: 16 GP/0 GS
Replaceability: Cole didn’t see much action, just as a substitute when needed along the O-line due largely to the fact that All MAC teammates Brewster, Gerberry, and Ramsey along with Cornwell were also in this class. If Cole had another year of eligibility he would be vital in replacing the losses.

Name: Kyle Cornwell
Number: 51
Position: RG
Height: 6′ 4″
Weight: 272
Career Stats: 36 GP/24 GS
Replaceability: The graduation of starting RG Kyle Cornwell, along with RT Robert Brewster, mean the entire right side of the offensive line is moving on. What Cornwell lacked in sheer size, he made up for with quickness and agility.

Name: Dan Gerberry
Number: 52
Position: C
Height: 6′ 3″
Weight: 292
Career Stats: 50 GP/50 GS
Replaceability: Gerberry is another of the 4-year starters from the offensive line. Named All MAC First Team in 2008. Gerberry was a tri-captain the last 2 seasons and while replacing his blocking and athletic ability will be exceptionally difficult, replacing his leadership and football smarts may prove to be impossible.

Name: Darius Hill
Number: 88
Position: TE
Height: 6′ 6″
Weight: 236
Career Stats: 50 GP/35 GS, 157 rec, 2544 yds, 31 TD
Replaceability: Hill was a force on the offensive side of the football due mainly to the fact that he was so much faster than the linebackers that tried to cover him. Occassionally would not hang onto a catchable ball, but Darius was a 2008 All MAC 1st Teamer. The TE position in Stan Parrish’s offense is a valuable one, and the Cardinals do have talent on the roster at this position.

Name: Louis Johnson
Number: 81
Position: WR
Height: 6′ 1″
Weight: 177
Career Stats: 45 GP/24 GS, 96 rec, 1678 yds, 12 TD
Replaceability: Louis Johnson provided a downfield threat for Nate Davis, especially in the wake of Dante Love’s absence. He, along with others, elevated their own games to account for the loss in production with Love’s injury. While never considered an upper tier star, Johnson’s experience next year will be missed, though mitigated, by the current roster and incoming offensive playmakers.

Name: Dante Love
Number: 86
Position: WR
Height: 5′ 10″
Weight: 179
Career Stats: 40 GP/23 GS, 199 rec, 2778 rec yds, 20 TD
Replaceability: BSU unfortunately had to deal with replacing Dante Love much sooner than they would have liked as he suffered a career-ending injury against Indiana. The offense continued to build success, but it was evident in slow starts and sometimes stagnant play that Dante Love’s speed and spark were sorely missed.

Name: Wade Overton
Number: 10
Position: WR
Height: 6′ 3″
Weight: 200
Career Stats: 2 GP/0 GS
Replaceability: Overton saw virtually no action during his career at BSU. The transfer from Valparaiso saw no action his junior season and only appeared in two games his senior season, with no statistical contribution.

Name: Andre Ramsey
Number: 79
Position: LT
Height: 6′ 5″
Weight: 304
Career Stats: 48 GP/42 GS
Replaceability: Ramsey was the anchor on the left side of the line at arguably the most important position on the field… protecting the QB’s blindside. Ramsey was a stalwart space eater on the O-line and neutralized star defensive ends all season, most notably Northern Illinois’ Larry English. Ramsey, much like the other offensive line losses will be exceptionally difficult to replace because of game experience and leadership in addition to sheer athletic ability.

Offensive Recap:
Players lost: 10
Starters lost: 6
Starter Positions Lost: LT, C, RG, RT, TE, WR

The good news is that running backs MiQuale Lewis and Cory Sykes are back, as are Briggs Orsbon, Daniel Ifft, Myles Trempe, and Madaris Grant. The bad news? There may be no one up front with any experience blocking for the backs to run or allowing the QB time to throw. And while we’re on the subject of QBs, it’s still anyone’s guess as to whether Ball State will need to test a new starter or not next year pending Nate Davis’ NFL decision. The loss of 4 starting offensive lineman is devastating, plain and simple.

Looking to replace them will be current LG Michael Switzer and RG Kreg Hunter who have both seen starting roles and current reserves Ben Jacoby, Travis Arnold, and Jordan Applegate. Replacing Darius Hill’s production will fall largely to Madaris Grant, who saw significant action in the 08 season.

On the recruiting trail, the Cardinals picked up a solid class, 12 commitments on the offensive side of the football, most at running back and wide receiver, though 2 offensive linemen are currently verbal commitments to the Cards. The offensive gem in this class may be QB Aaron Mershman, but with Kelly Page in a holding pattern and Nate Davis potentially around for another year, it could be several years before we see Mershman truly shine.

Cardinal Senior Send Off: Defense

This is the first of a 2 part series evaluating the losses to graduation that Ball State will face before we get to the incoming players and prospects in our Cardinal Recruiting Series beginning next week. Thanks for your blood, sweat, and tears gentlemen. It’s truly appreciated. The first unit up? The defense.

Name: Gonzalo Barinaga
Number: 56
Position: DT
Height: 6′ 2″
Weight: 256
Career Stats: 39 GP/ 7 GS, 26 Tkls, 6.5 TFL, 1 Sack
Replaceability: This Academic All Conference DT was not an exceptional statistical leader, but provided quality starts when needed, and spot relief as the defensive starters needed a breather.

Name: Antonio Beasley
Number: 59
Position: LB
Height: 6′ 0″
Weight: 219
Career Stats: 21 GP/0 GS, 12 Tkls
Replaceability: Beasley spent most of his time as a career backup behind Kenny Meeks. Provided spot relief but never matched his high school success of being named 2nd Team All State.

Name: Wendell Brown
Number: 11
Position: LB
Height: 6′ 0″
Weight: 214
Career Stats: 41 GP/29 GS, 209 Tkls, 18 TFL, 2 Sacks, 4 PBU, 1 INT, 2 FF
Replaceability: Brown was a defensive force and the leading tackler on the Cardinal defense following the 2006 season. But Brown was soon plagued by injury in the offseason and a subsequent arrest. Brown provided quality spot relief in the 08 campaign, but never returned to the heights of on-field success he enjoyed his first three seasons in Muncie.

Name: Trey Buice
Number: 8
Position: CB
Height: 5’10”
Weight: 175
Career Stats: 46 GP/29 GS, 176 Tkls, 11 TFL, 5 sacks, 3 INT, 13 PBU, 1 FF, 1 FR
Replaceability: Buice came into his own in his senior season, starting all games but one. A usually strong tackler, decent in coverage, and ability to stop the run made him a valuable starter for this 2008 Cardinal defense.

Name: Bryant Haines
Number: 49
Position: LB
Height: 6′ 5″
Weight: 223
Career Stats: 44 GP/ 41 GS, 343 tkls, 31.5 TFL, 8 Sacks, 7 PBU, 2 FF, 3 FR, 1 INT, 1 Blk
Replaceability: Haines was not only the leader of the defense on the field, this 4-year starter was also the face of the defense off the field. Bryant was a 2nd Team All MAC selection in 07 and a 3rd Team All MAC choice in 2008. Haines will be exceptionally difficult to replace for a linebacker unit that lost not only starters, but also many reserves.

Name: BJ Hill
Number: 3
Position: CB
Height: 5′ 7″
Weight: 180
Career Stats: 49 GP/30 GS
Defense: 154 Tkls, 11 TFL, 2 FF, 8 INT, 8 PBU, 1 Blk
Returns: 78 PR, 9.4 avg, 2 TD
Replaceability: Hill moved to the defensive secondary from running back after the 06 season and hasn’t looked back. Was named All MAC Second Team in 2007 and All MAC First Team in 2008. Hill was not a lock-down corner, as his height was sometimes a detriment to his ability to defend, but his impact on special teams and his sheer overwhelming experience will be difficult to replace, especially considering the other losses at the CB position.

Name: Jermaine Houston
Number: 97
Position: DE
Height: 6′ 4″
Weight: 241
Career Stats: 4 GP/0 GS, 1 Tkl
Replaceability: Houston was a junior college transfer from Georgia Military Academy. He saw limited game time in his junior season and no game action in his 2008 campaign. The DE position at BSU is a crowded one with Brandon Crawford and Andrew Puthoff and Houston simply got lost in the shuffle.

Name: Trey Lewis
Number: 12
Position: CB
Height: 6′ 0″
Weight: 190
Career Stats: 50 GP/39 GS, 259 Tkls, 16 TFL, 1 Sack, 11 INT, 22 PBU, 4 FR, TD
Replaceability: Lewis was forced to compete for time with BJ Hill and Trey Buice at the corner slot. Lewis was a reliable defender that was tremendous in run support as well. Good soft hands led to his skills as an interceptor. There probably isn’t another position on the field where the Cardinals will feel the loss of graduation more than at cornerback.

Name: Kenny Meeks
Number: 99
Position: LB
Height: 6′ 2″
Weight: 230
Career Stats: 41 GP/20 GS, 94 Tkls, 16 TFL, 10 Sacks, 5 PBU, 1 FF, 2 FR
Replaceability: If Meeks’ junior year was his coming out party, his senior campaign was when he announced he was for real. Meeks was a consistent pass rusher and run stopper, as the team leader in sacks and TFL.

Name: Chris Miller
Number: 35
Position: P
Height: 6′ 2″
Weight: 211
Career Stats: 49 GP, 231 punts, 10342 yds, 82 In20, 25 TB
Replaceability: Miller is another in the long line of successful punters to come out of Ball State University. An All-American across the board, from Playboy to the Sporting News. Miller was All MAC First Team his first three seasons on campus and All MAC Second Team his senior season. Miller’s will be replaced by Scott Kovanda or through a potential pickup on the recruiting trail.

Defensive Recap:
Players lost: 10
Starters lost: 5
Starter Positions Lost: 2 LB, 2 CB, P

It isn’t so much that the Cardinals lost a significant amount of players, as losing only 4 starters, not counting Chris Miller, on the defensive side of the football isn’t tremendously devastating. However, the fact that the losses wrecked half of the starting linebackers and both starting corners is troubling. Additionally, the number one corner off the bench, or the first DB to fill in during nickel or dime packages, is also graduating in Trey Lewis. The loss of Miller at punter will also be felt in the battle for field position next fall.

The Cardinals’ defense was a unit this season that relied on senior leadership and the ability to make a big play when needed. The remaining talent on the depth chart must step up and build on a solid foundation. Safeties Sean Baker and Alex Knipp will have to help compensate for unproven and untested corners in the passing game. On the recruiting trail, the Cardinals have received verbal commitments from 6 defensive players.