Preview 2018: Previewing and looking ahead to the Ball State Cardinals season with what you need to know.
Preview 2018: Ball State Cardinals
– What You Need To Know: Offense | Defense
– Top Players, Key Game, Fun Stats
– What Will Happen & Win Total Prediction
– Recruiting Class Analysis | Schedule Analysis
– Ball State Previews 2017 | 2016 | 2015
Was Ball State injured or was it hurt?
As it turned out, it was a little bit of both.
Coming off a promising four-win first season under former Ball State quarterback Mike Neu, everything appeared to be in place for a big run in 2017 – or, at least, turn into something to watch out for.
The Cardinals battled Illinois in a 24-21 loss, ripped apart a UAB team that went on to win eight games, and had no problems against Tennessee Tech for a good 2-1 start. And then everyone got hurt, and then the wheels came off.
2018 called, and it would like the team that showed up for those first three games of 2017 back.
QB Riley Neal (leg) and star RB James Gilbert (hand) went down in the third game of the season and didn’t return, and it didn’t stop there.
You name the position, and it was probably hit hard by someone missing meaningful time, until the wounded piled up and the season got silly-bad. Injuries are a part of life on a football team, son, but what had to deal with wasn’t fair.
Of course, that could all happen again, but the gods might be due to cut Neu some slack.
At the very least, this is now a much deeper team to go along with the returning talent, and the coaching staff has a whole lot of options to play around with in fall camp.
Does that all add up to the first bowl season since 2013? It’s not as crazy a thought as it might seem, as long as everyone stays healthy.
Getting back Neal and Gilbert is a great start, but the Cardinals have more talent in the backfield to get a good rushing rotation going. The emergence of Caleb Huntley and Malik Dunner was one of the bigger positives out of all the injures, and now, Gilbert should be fresher.
The receiving corps gets back a few banged up parts from the 2016 team, and welcomes back solid targets in Riley Neal and Justin Hall to work with. Throw in the veteran line, and now Neu can start to show what he can do.
Defense has been optional for the Cardinals for a long, long, time, but at least it was improved last season from the previous nightmare seasons. It was still bad, but it improved.
Seven starters return to the back seven/eight, but the line has to come together quickly and a pass rush needs to be found.
2017 was about as bad as it gets. Now go and roll up everyone in bubble wrap before the start of the season.