Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Scouting Ball State

When discussion the merits (or formally lack there of) of Ball State football, it had been common practice to invoke a witty comment about the “ball” portion of Ball State, or to proclaim, as if in originality, the fact that David Letterman attended the university. For our collective sanity, however, I will forgo these observations, and move straight to the point. This ain’t your daddy’s Ball State football team.

Ball State enters Saturday’s contest with the Midshipmen at 1-1, most recently coming off of a victory against MAC foe Eastern Michigan. The point at which everyone wants to start discussing this team, and rightly so, is at the quarterback position, where Nate Davis has established himself as one of the premier quarterbacks in the conference. Since committing to play for Cardinals, the 6’2 sophomore has been compared to some of the greats in MAC play, specifically to the likes of Pittsburgh Steeler star Ben Roethlisburger. He was a PS# 35 out of High School and won the starting job halfway through the season last year, coming in to hit just over 60% of his passes for nearly 2000 yards and a 18-8 ratio. Davis has picked up where he left of last year, already passing for more than 500 yards and five touchdowns in two games of work. If Davis has one weak point this year, it may be accuracy, which stands at an uninspiring 51%. Still, he’s a proven quarterback with a strong arm who sees the field well, and has the ability to exploit Navy’s weak zone coverages.

Davis is surrounded by a relatively talented group of skill position players, including wide receiver Dante Love, who was a second team All-MAC selection last year and leads the team with three touchdown receptions. 6’7 Tight End Darius Hill will likely present matchup problems for Navy’s undersized defense, while the running back MiQuale Lewis has shown some ability early in the year. The offensive line isn’t overpowering like Rutgers’ but it is veteran and as you can expect has a significant size advantage over Navy’s defensive line.

It’s tough to get a hold on where Ball State’s defense is at this early in the year, although it would appear as though they’ve improved from last season. The Cardinals held Miami (Oh) to only 13 points in week one and held Eastern Michigan to sixteen. I wouldn’t get caught up in defensive rankings this early in the year, especially considering Ball State has “only” played MAC foes Miami (Oh) and Eastern Michigan. While it’s too early to tell how good either of those two teams are, this defense is good enough defense that Navy cannot turn the ball over, a phrase which I think I’m going to find myself repeating all season.

The Early Word

When looking at this game, we can’t overlook the fact that Ball State has not played Navy in the Paul Johnson era, and that the Cardinals did not have extended time to gameplan for the offense (they might have, but not to the extent Temple or Rutgers had.) These are crucial advantages for the Midshipmen that most scouting reports tend to overlook, and factors which I believe will lead to a Navy victory. This game should give the Navy offense to “get back to the basics” so to speak and not necessarily need to try to compensate for an extremely disciplined and fast defense like the one we saw against Rutgers. I'll have a further preview concerning the individual matchups on Thursday and Friday, but my early word is that the Midshipmen will win this game, but proabably not by much.

1 comment:

Gary said...

I have to admit that with our key injuries on defense and some other issues with the offense-this is the first time I dont have a good feeling vs one of these type of teams.
Normally I would say 14 point Navy win at least.
I think we will score but so will they.
I had this game and Delaware as 2 trip up games and at this point I am worried we may lose both.
Hopefully the Mids can restore my confidence.