BY CONNOR ONION | Radio Voice of Ball State Football on WCRD 91.3 FM
Before tonight’s contest between Georgia State and the Ball State Cardinals kicks off, here are three major storylines to watch for.
- You can watch the game on ESPN 3 at 7 p.m.
- Listen to the game on SL Radio on 91.3 WCRD with Connor Onion, Cory Stace and Matt Organ.
Homecoming in the secondary
Both of Ball State’s starting safeties, Corey Hall and Martez Hester should feel at home on Friday night as the Cardinals travel to the Georgia Dome in Atlanta to take on Georgia State in the 2016 season opener.
Free Safety Corey Hall, a native of Stockbridge, Georgia, grew up approximately 20 minutes from the site of tonight’s game. At Stockbridge High, Hall was a two-year captain and the team’s most valuable player his junior season in 2011. As a two-sport athlete, Hall also excelled on the baseball field at Stockbridge as a shortstop and center fielder.
Hall returns to the lineup tonight for the first time since last year’s season opening win against Virginia Military Institute. Hall strained a hamstring that held him out for the final 11 games of the 2015 campaign.
A more familiar face in the Ball State secondary is Martez Hester. Hester hails from Kennesaw, Georgia, 25 miles northwest of Atlanta.
In a secondary plagued by injuries and inconsistency the past two seasons, Hester has been the constant. The current senior was the only player on defense to start all 12 games in 2015, and he finished the year third on the team in tackles.
Ball State outside linebacker Aaron Taylor also returns to familiar territory tonight:
Minter’s from Muncie
Georgia State’s fourth year defensive coordinator, Jesse Minter was triumphant in his homecoming to Muncie last season.
Georgia State recorded the second win over an FBS team in program history, a 31-19 over Ball State.
Minter’s father, Rick, the current Defensive Line Coach at Georgia State, is the former Defensive Coordinator at Ball State. Rick was on Paul Schudel’s staff in Muncie from 1985-91. In 1989, Minter’s defense was one of the stoutest in the Mid-American Conference, propelling the Cardinals to a conference title and a berth into the California Raisin Bowl.
While the elder Minter coached at Ball State, the younger Minter attended Yorktown High School, the same school as Ball State starting quarterback Riley Neal.
Four Headed Monster?
As the season wore on in 2015, Ball State entrusted most of their carries to Darian Green and James Gilbert. The two backs combined for over 1,300 yards on the ground and 13 touchdowns.
The formula may not be so simple this season.
While both Green and Gilbert return and are expected to receive a bulk of the carries, senior Teddy Williamson will certainly contribute and true freshman Malik Dunner has drawn praise from the Ball State coaching staff during camp.
Since first year head coach Mike Neu took over about eight months ago, returning players have raved over how creative and enjoyable the offense has been. The four running backs at the disposal of Offensive Coordinator Joey Lynch are expected to be a large part of the innovative Ball State offense.
“We may see two, sometimes three running backs on the field at the same time,” Mike Neu said in his weekly press conference Monday afternoon.
Sit back, relax, and watch the artistry in the Ball State backfield.