After a tough loss to end non-conference play last weekend, Ball State sits at 1-3 and now turns its attention to MACtion.
The first four weeks featured a Ball State team who nearly reached the mountain top, and then fell back to Earth.
Now the Cardinals will leave the first four weeks behind them, and reset at 0-0 going into conference play.
Ball State needs to go 5-3 in Mid-American Conference play to make a bowl game this season, but everything relies on Ball State’s performance tomorrow against Kent State.
HOW BALL STATE CAN BEAT KENT STATE
The first and most basic thing the Cardinals have to do is stop the dynamic threat that is Woody Barrett.
Barrett, a sophomore out of Orlando, Florida, is a dual-threat quarterback. While his passing stats don’t jump off the page (826 yards, 4 TD’s and 4 INT’s), his ability to create chaos with his legs does.
Ball State has seen multiple dual-threat QB’s already this season, starting with Brandon Wimbush in South Bend.
The main problem the Cardinals will have to deal with is making sure Barrett stays in the pocket, and doesn’t get space on the outside. Ball State struggled last week when Davis Shanley got out of the pocket and ran.
Slowing down Woody Barrett is one sure-fire way to get a win to start conference play.
GET THOSE RUNNING BACKS GOING AGAIN
Last week against Western Kentucky was the worst statistical week for the running backs as a whole.
120 yards on the ground is not the formula Coach Neu will be looking for during conference play. However, last week should be an anomaly for the Ball State running back group.
James Gilbert missed all of MAC play last season after getting injured last year against Tennessee Tech in week three.
But conference play is where JG shined his sophomore year. Gilbert ran for over 1,300 yards, and tallied 12 touchdowns during the course of MAC play. Expect that same James Gilbert to return Saturday against Kent.
While Gilbert may have missed conference play last year, Caleb Huntley did not. In fact, Huntley was a shining star for the Cardinals during the final eight games.
The now sophomore running back produced 1,003 yards rushing on the season, becoming only the second Ball State freshman to surpass 1,000 yards.
Although one of the main reasons Huntley got so many touches was because of the injury plague that hit Ball State last year, the experience he gained should prove dividends starting now.
Maybe the most important part of the backfield is the speedy, versatile Malik Dunner.
Finding ways to get Dunner involved, like they did last week on 3rd and goal, gives Ball State the most dynamite backfield in the MAC.
JUSTIN HALL TIME
Ball State’s All-MAC Second Team wide receiver Justin Hall struggled through the first three games of the season.
His nine grabs last weekend gave us a glimpse back at the Hall of last year. But he is yet to cross the goal line through four games, something he did three times last year.
Hall’s nine catches were partially because of Corey Lacanaria’s stellar performance last week. Lacanaria’s five catches and 99 yards helped Hall and the other Cardinal receivers create more opportunities on their own.
Ball State and Kent State kickoff from the Scheu at 3 p.m. You can catch every Ball State football game on mixlr.com/bsusportslink. Tune into the Ball State Football GameDay show on Facebook starting at 2:15.