Preview 2019: Previewing and looking ahead to the Ball State Cardinals season with what you need to know.
2018 Record: 4-8 overall, 3-5 in the MAC
Head Coach: Mike Neu, 4th year, 10-26
5. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE BALL STATE OFFENSE
– The offense was interesting. It was able to move the ball well, but it couldn’t count on a steady passing game and the ground attack didn’t work too well against the decent defenses, but the O averaged 409 yards per game. Now, with eight starters back, it has to score.
– Two of those lost starters, though, are a big deal. QB Riley Neal is now at Vanderbilt, and RB James Gilbert will be the starter at Kansas State. Fortunately, the quarterback situation looks solid with junior Drew Plitt and redshirt freshman John Paddock each playing well this spring. Plitt stepped in when Neal got hurt and hit 65% of his passes for 1,008 yards and six scores, but he threw eight picks.
– The receiving corps is among the best in the MAC. Justin Hall and Riley Miller are excellent veterans who should combine for around 130 catches again, and 6-3 sophomore Yo’Heinz Tyler is about to turn into a player after averaging 16 yards per catch. Throw in the potential of Dunner spending most of his time as a receiver, and the return of 13-catch Kyle Schrank at tight end, and look out.
– Gilbert was banged up, but he ran for 659 yards and seven scores, and Neal took off enough to be second on the team rushing. Do-it-all guy Malik Dunner will be a receiver, but along with his kick return ability he’ll run a bit – he finished third on the team – with 222-pound junior Caleb Huntley turning into the main man after leading the way with 1,003 yards two years ago and only playing half of last year. They’ll all work behind a line that gets back all five starters, but has to be a wee bit stronger in pass protection.