TE Darius Hill (Ball State Photo Services)

2007 Statistics

Coach: Brady Hoke
22-37, 5 years
2007 Record: 7-6
at Eastern Michigan WON 38-16
at Navy WON 34-31 (OT)
at Nebraska LOST 40-41
at Western Michigan WON 27-23
at Illinois LOST 17-28
at Indiana LOST 20-38
at Northern Illinois WON 27-21
Rutgers LOST 30-52

2007 Final Rankings
AP-UR, Coaches-UR, BCS-UR

2008 Outlook

When Brady Hoke came home in ’03 to the team with which he helped win the 1978 MAC title, it had been six years (1996) since either the last winning campaign (8-4) or the last conference crown (five overall). In his fifth year as a head coach (at any university), Hoke delivered relief on the first drought (7-6), reaching a bowl game in the process. Not bad for a program that is 0-41-1 vs. BCL-level foes all-time and has no bowl wins.

Signs lately have shown a bigger breakthrough is possible – the near miss against Nebraska (41-40 in Lincoln, lost on a missed FGA), coupled with the close game in Ann Arbor two years ago (34-26 loss), hint of how Ball State’s level of play is increasing. All but one loss last year was to either BCS-aligned opponents and/or MAC champ Central Michigan, so consistency is another newfound quality that will reappear. As the press knows, Hoke and his staff want to win the league as their first goal, a realistic aim that would represent movement in the needed direction. But privately, knowing the pat hand they’ve been dealt for the upcoming season, finally getting a win over a BCS foe and a top 25 year-end ranking have to be prominent on the coaches’ minds.

The hopes and dreams of Cardinal fans everywhere rest in the talents of dual-threat QB phenom Nate Davis. He’s the reason for the recent surge in offense, leaving school records and would-be tacklers in his wake. Getting all of his weapons back, as well as his entire front line, has Davis as quietly excited as Hoke, especially since Dante Love is their top weapon. Love set the all-time MAC single-season record for all-purpose yards (2,690) in rout to 100 catches. Funny thing is, teams know he’s going to get the ball, and the Davis-Love connection is just too strong - one of them inflicts serious damage. This is the bread-and-butter, the nuts-and-bolts, the up-and-down, the end-all of Ball State’s offense. If the running game can lend a hand, not even the BCS foes will be able to stop Ball State’s attack.

But like so many smaller schools, it’s on defense where we see the biggest holes. The middle (DTs, MLB) has capable hats, but undersized, at that. If run stopping is to be found, it will be the outside elements that have to step up. 32-year old Brandon Crawford has the leadership-by-example quality to his efforts, as do Haines and Hill. The big question that only the season itself can answer is whether the defense can stop the big-time opponents, the biggest problem last year.

The only big foe this time is Indiana. The run stopping has to step up if Navy is to be thwarted, but since they run outside so much and lack a big inside push, they are beatable. All eyes are on mid-November – payback for BSU’s two ’07 conference losses can be dispensed in the two games that coincidentally will most help Ball State become the MAC West champion. This is the kind of schedule that can be mastered, similar to how Hawai’i only had to beat Washington to run its table into the BCS in ‘07. Are we saying that we think Ball State makes the BCS? No, we don’t. But if the track is greased for any smaller school to make a go at the ultimate prize, it’s that way for Ball State. The Cardinals just don’t have enough separation from their MAC brethren to think that they are the hands-down best in their league, let alone good enough to reach the big, post-New Years stage. If you like an underdog, jump on the Ball State bandwagon for a wild ride in 2008.

Projected 2008 record: 9-3
LB Bryant Haines (Ball State Photo Services)
QB - 4 DL - 2
RB - 3.5 LB - 2.5
WR - 4.5 DB - 3.5
OL - 4 ..
2007 Statistical Rankings
Total Off:
Sacks Allow:
Total Def:

Passing: Nate Davis, 270-478-6, 3667 yds., 30 TD

Rushing: Frank Edmonds, 140 att., 531 yds., 6 TD

Receiving: Dante Love, 100 rec., 1398 yds., 10 TD

Scoring: Dante Love, 12 TD, 72 pts.

Punting: Chris Miller, 61 punts, 45.4 avg.

Kicking: Jake Hogue, 11-19 FG, 33-34 PAT, 66 pts.

Tackles: Bryant Haines, 125 tot., 60 solo

Sacks: Brandon Crawford, 8 sacks

Interceptions: B.J. Hill, 5 for 43 yds.; Trey Lewis, 5 for 86 yds., 1 TD

Kickoff Returns: Dante Love, 48 ret., 22.9 avg., 1 TD

Punt Returns: B.J. Hill, 23 ret., 9.7 avg., 0 TD


OFFENSE: Dan Dunford-WR, John Purdy-OT
DEFENSE: Amara Koroma-NT, Jacob Jordan-DT, Cortlan Booker-DE, Mike Dorulla-MLB, Chris Allen-SS, Eddie Burk-FS

How much better can this offense get under the leadership of junior Nate Davis? With a full cast of returning starters, an eager nation will soon watch Ball State’s production machine turn itself loose after stating its arrival in 2007. At a small school like this, throwing 30 TD passes with just six INTs doesn’t always get you recognized, but if you’re reading this, now you know who Davis is. Like Grothe at USF and Zac Robinson at Oklahoma State, Davis makes decisions on the fly in an unteachable manner, and the team knows how to follow his lead(s). His slow 40 time (4.85) essentially fibs about how quick Davis is once he decides to make a move. Those first few steps are killers - subtract his sack yardage and you see Davis running it at over seven yards per try. Only two QBs had a lower INT percentage than Davis’s 1.25%. Needless to say, the all-MAC QB’s health is everything if State wants to ride his successes to the conference title game. Tanner Justice looked pretty bad in the spring game, and some blamed the weather…seems last time we checked, bad weather isn’t going to cancel most games, so we think greenie Kelly Page getting tutored by Davis as the backup is the smartest choice. Page is the top recruit in this year’s Cardinal class (decommitted from Oregon after the Ducks brought in another QB, and he takes the place of Indiana Mr. Football Paul McIntosh after he suddenly changed his commitment to Army), but his label as ‘pro-style’ seems off with his speed. The team’s offensive approach changes the least with Page as the backup.

Though much improved from its prior showing, the running game’s statistical advances don’t tell the entire story. RB-by-committee due to losing MiQuale Lewis against Nebraska never looked so bad, but without Lewis, ground production took a hit. So did the passing game, since he was a major target coming out of the backfield. At 5’6, Lewis classically slips under tacklers who fail to realize he’s even near them until it’s too late. But since he bangs between the tackles so well and he didn’t hold up last year, his durability is in question. Employing his replacements a bit more might take the wear-and-tear and redistribute it so all can remain healthy. Senior Chris Clancey did the most in Lewis’s absence, and his body seems much better prepared to take the abuse. Frankie Edmonds led the team in rushing as a true freshman. With speed and a similar stature to Lewis, Edmonds’ sophomore campaign will be even better as he now knows the ropes and he won’t be the primary anymore. The one problem this spring seemed to be converting for six – a first-and-goal in the final scrimmage couldn’t be punched in.

We now introduce the other major weapon, for if we are breaking down the running game, Dante Love’s name has to come up. Good for three carries a game (and being under center, which we will see more of in ’08), getting the ball into the Cincinnati product’s hands those few extra times offers game-changing implications. Only seven other WRs in the nation had more catches, and only three had more receiving yards…and none of those guys are like Love with his hybrid role. An amazing high jumper and hurdler, Louis Johnson’s deep threat role is what opens it all up for Love. So does Joe Everett’s presence, but he dropped so many passes this spring that Dan Ifft has slid into the role of extra receiver for times when multiples are needed. Still, no one causes more mismatches in coverage than Darius Hill. The No.2 aerial weapon, Hill is tied for the most TD receptions (24) in school history, and at 6’6, you can see why we feel this bulked-up ex-WR deserves All-American consideration. Grant is just as dangerous, so the two-TE sets that force safeties to come up and LBs to feel out of position will again be a key for opening things up.

The line has five starters back, and four seniors amongst them mean improvements should be forthcoming. But the anecdote told above (of how that first-and-goal in the spring game couldn’t be converted) tells a lot. Getting a healthy Andre Ramsey at left tackle (ankle injury meant six missed games) will go a long way toward sealing the outside. Robert Brewster also comes in over 300lbs, and he’s been part of the growth as a permanent starter since 2006. Senior backup Adam Cole is a step slower. The inside has lighter, quicker bodies. Mike Switzer wasn’t even on the radar before the Miami opener; he then started every game at left guard and played like a vet. A year wiser, the Indianapolis native is that mobile type who will still be on par with the seniors surrounding him. Ex-TE Cornwell can move to the outside just as quickly. Dan Gerberry is the steadiest performer of them all. A starter for 36 consecutive games, Gerberry’s comments last year indict the OL as the main element holding back the team. "If we want to win the MAC as a team, it's going to come down to the offensive line.” He knows best, besides maybe fourth-year OC Stan Parrish. Parrish has brought Davis to his ever-improving level of play, and there is little more Parrish can do now with any of the talent position Cardinals…it’s the line that has to gain consistency for the next steps to be taken.


WR Dante Love (Ball State Photo Services)


Returning Starters/
Key Players
QB Nate Davis-Jr (6-2, 217) Tanner Justice-Jr (6-3, 196)
HB MiQuale Lewis-Jr (5-6, 184) Frank Edmonds-So (5-8, 181)
Chris Clancy-Sr (6-2, 231)
WR Dante Love-Sr (5-10, 179) Joe Everett-So (6-0, 170)
Myles Trempe-So (6-4, 202)
WR Louis Johnson-Sr (6-1, 177) Daniel Ifft-So (6-3, 181)
Wade Overton-Sr (6-3, 200)
TE Darius Hill-Sr (6-6, 236) Drew Sharick-Fr (6-6, 230)
TE Madaris Grant-Jr (6-5, 222) Brendan Choy-Fr (6-4, 247)
OT Andre Ramsey-Sr (6-5, 304) Adam Cole-Sr (6-6, 278)
OG Michael Switzer-So (6-5, 277) Lance Helton-So (6-5, 296)
C Dan Gerberry-Sr (6-3, 292) Ben JacobyFr (6-2, 263)
OG Kyle Cornwell-Sr (6-4, 272) Kreg Hunter-Fr (6-3, 284)
OT Robert Brewster-Sr (6-5, 310) Travis Arnold-So (6-8, 284)
K Jake Hogue-So (5-9, 195) Ian McGarvey-So (5-9, 210)



There can be little argument that the proceedings on this side of the ball are more responsible for the losses. But in examining the results, it was the MAC champion Chippewas and the four BCS-level opponents that damaged the Card’s D the worst. Like Navy (whom they beat but who earned 521 rushing yards) did to them, the five teams that beat BSU (other loss was to Miami, but BSU only allowed 14 points) each ran the ball pretty effortlessly. One of 12 teams last year to allow five yards per carry and one of only 17 to allow over 200 per game, State needs to make foes throw it more.

Brandon Crawford is the jumping off point for improvements. This 31-year old ex-Marine is truly a man amongst boys, playing above the mid-major level of his foes and on a level with any BCS lineman. As a testimonial, the Fort Wayne product is bigger than most of the tackles with whom he plays. Woodard is a rare three-star prospect, and he looks like he could be more of a contain type (instead of a free spirit who leaves his rush lane and then gets burned by delayed hand-offs, like Booker did.) Eddins appears to have a hold of the first substitute spot, but JUCO-product Houston has more girth to possibly handle those BCS foes better. Renee Perry seems the focal point for improvements inside, as does the return of walk-on Troy Davis to starting prominence. Barinaga has gone from ILB to OLB to DE to (now) DT; he’s undersized, but a relentless engine and possibly the strongest Cardinal (1200lb hip press). With so many great superlatives, how this line doesn’t improve seems hard to fathom.

Bryant Haines brings his ex-safety mentality to matching up with extra receivers on the weakside. Kenny Meeks is the odd man out when extra DBs are needed; given a full workload, he will deliver. The trouble in the middle is size – Davyd Jones barely tips 200lbs, so major-sized foes that run between the tackles will be tough to control (especially with the sub-300 tackles). Like at most smaller schools, the reserves offer little help in adding girth.

B.J. Hill makes up for his modest size with big play – six TFLs go with his five INTs like he’s a safety, not a smother corner. Trey Lewis is the same thieving bandit, so opposing QBs have to choose on which side to risk their attempts. Buice is a good utility player (three starts in ’07), doing it all when put in as the nickel. The corners are the strongest unit on the defense. All-MAC SS Alex Knipp proved much in his first year as a full-time starter; a year wiser, his junior year will mean even more improvements for his hawking style. Dane Cook has speed to spare, but his technique isn’t as consistent as Derrick Henry’s, thus Henry’s status. Like most positions on D, the second string is a definitive step down from the starters.

The best chance the Cards have of making an impact with defense is by staying healthy. Watch the third-down conversion rate of foes – if BSU can knock it under 40%, they can expect wins to follow.


DB B.J. Hill (Ball State Photo Services)


Returning Starters/
Key Players
DE Brandon Crawford-Jr (6-3, 260) Jermaine Houston-Sr (6-4, 241)
NT Rene Perry-So (5-11, 271) Troy Davis-Jr (5-11, 256)
DT Gonzalo Barinaga-Sr (6-2, 256) Drew Duffin-Jr (6-3, 255)
DE Justin Woodard-So (6-3, 222) Robert Eddins-Jr (6-3, 224)
SLB Kenny Meeks-Sr (6-2, 230) Antonio Beasley-Sr (6-0, 219)
MLB Davyd Jones-So (6-1, 200) Wendell Brown-Sr (6-0, 214)
WLB Bryant Haines-Sr (6-5, 223) Lorren Womack-Fr (6-0, 221)
CB B.J. Hill-Sr (5-7, 236) Koreen Burch-So (5-9, 162)
CB Trey Lewis-Sr (6-0, 190) Trey Buice-Sr (5-10, 175)
SS Alex Knipp-Jr (6-0, 194) Sean Baker-Fr (6-1, 205)
FS Derrick Henry-So (6-1, 189) Dane Cook-So (6-0, 186)
P Chris Miller-Sr (6-2, 211) ..




All-American Chris Miller does a decent job, getting distance and good hang time. But nearly half of his punts were returned, and at a clip of over 11 yards per try. The nation’s third-best punter (distance) got the 29th-ranked results, not a good sign for winning field position battles. Hogue and McGarvey went a combined 1-for-6 from the 30-39-yard range. Again, tightening up these little items will go a long way toward getting more wins. B.J. Hill (punts) and Dante Love (kickoffs) balance the special team results to some degree with their superior abilities.