What You Need To Know About The Ball State Defense
– Eight of the top nine tacklers return to a defense that had a big, big problem. The problems on offense didn’t help, but the D didn’t step up, allowing 422 yards and a MAC-high 41 points per game. Six of the top eight tacklers, though, were underclassmen – this is a group that will grow. With seven starters back, and more help from the other side of the ball, the production should be a wee bit better. However …
– The best part of the defense has to be replaced. Anthony Wimbush was dominant all-star pass rushing force on the line, but he accounted for 11.5 of the team’s 24 sacks. He’s not alone with the losses on the front three, but Chris Crumb is a fireplug of a nose tackle who got in a little work, and there’s size behind him in the 313-pound Poni Tu’uta. Finding production from the ends, though, will be an issue.
– Seven of the eight starters return to the back eight, led by a secondary that has to be a whole lot better. Even with a decent pass rush, the Cardinals were lit up for 199 yards or more in nine of the last ten games, and came up with just one interception in the last eight contests.
However, it was a young group, with safeties Bryce Cosby, Romero Wade and Brett Anderson back. Getting back Marc Walton and Josh Miller at the corners give the team two senior leaders, but they have to be a whole lot better.
Leading tackler Jacob White is back in the middle of the linebacking corps, and Brandon Martin is back after a solid freshman season, finishing third on the team with 55 stops.
Biggest Key To The Ball State Defense
Find something the D can do right. The pass defense couldn’t come up with anything big over the last few months of the season, and the run defense was cranked up 215 yards or more six times. In all, the Cardinals allowed 5,059 yards – and that’s an improvement. That’s the best the D has been over the last seven seasons, but even so, being 124th in the nation in points allowed isn’t a plus.