2017 Prespring Rankings: No. 110 Ball State Cardinals
The 2017 prespring college football rankings, taking the first look at the Ball State Cardinals
No. 110: Ball State Cardinals
Ball State Cardinals Prespring Status
The hope was for the program to start trending upward under new head coach Mike Neu, and that’s exactly what happened despite the 4-8 season with five straight losses to close things out. The offense was entertaining at times, the run defense was solid, and despite the problems over the last two months, there really were reasons to get excited. With four losses by seven points or fewer, and with most of the top offensive parts returning, being two wins better might not be a push.
Ball State Cardinals Biggest Issue
The key defensive veterans are gone with the top five tacklers done. The entire starting linebacking corps has to be replaced, big-hitting safeties Corey Hall and Martez Hester are finished, and top end Joshua Posley is done on the D line. In all, seven starters are gone from a defense that could use all the help it can get going into the season. Not having 85-catch leading receiver KeVonn Mabon will be a problem, too.
Ball State Cardinals Biggest Positive
James Gilbert really might be the best running back you haven’t seen. With four starters returning to the offensive line, the 1,332-yard, 12-touchdown Gilbert should be in for yet another brilliant season if he can stay in one piece. Combining with dual-threat passer Riley Neal – who ran for 540 yards and threw for over 2,500 – the offense has the upside to be dramatically better, even after averaging almost 450 yards per game.
Really, Why Are The Ball State Cardinals Ranked Here?
Even with all the positives, and even with the upside, there’s still a problem with a defense that had the third-worst pass defense in college football and allowed 470 yards per game – again, losing seven starters doesn’t help. Neu’s team might not have played up to snuff late last year, but with a good-looking backfield and terrific ground game, the fundamentals of the Cardinals are strong.