Preview 2018: Ball State Cardinals. Get Healthy, Get Wins

Preview 2018: Ball State Cardinals. Get Healthy, Get Wins

2018 Preview

Preview 2018: Ball State Cardinals. Get Healthy, Get Wins

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What You Need To Know About The Ball State Offense

– And now the stars are coming back. There’s a reason the Ball State offense fell of the map last season, averaging 18 points and 335 yards per game. Star RB James Gilbert and QB Riley Neal were both done after three games. They’re both back along with seven other starters, with a whole lot of hope to quickly go back to showing so much promise two years ago.

– The running game wasn’t all that bad without Gilbert. Caleb Huntley and Malik Dunner each ran well – Huntley led the team with 1,003 yards, and Dunner ran for eight scores – but getting Gilbert back should make a huge difference. Four starters are back on the line to pace the way, but the pass protection has to be far, far better. It’s not a massive line, but there’s experience, and there’s depth.

It’s not like the passing game was special under Riley Neal, but it was a whole lot more effective. He has an interception issue, but the 6-6, 225-pound bomber was on the verge of doing big things coming off a 2,541-yard, 13 touchdown, 12 pick season. An injured leg ended the season early, but he’s back, and he has the receivers to work with. The top six targets return led by Justin Hall, the 5-9, 160-pound quick playmaker coming off a 78-catch campaign.

Biggest Key To The Ball State Offense

Stay healthy. That’s it. The first team offense was decimated by injuries, but on the plus side, that allowed a whole slew of young players to get meaningful playing time. With so many returning starters, there are options now to play around with, and getting back Neal and Gilbert is a huge deal.

Along with injury luck is a downfield passing game. Ball State was dead last in the country in yards per completion, averaging just 9.32 yards per try. Neal isn’t going to go crazy down the field, but averaging closer to 11 yards per grab is a must.

NEXT: Defense Breakdown, Top Players, Final Prediction & What Will Happen

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