SOUTH BEND, IN - SEPTEMBER 03: Tyler Eifert #80 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish is pursued by Sam Barrington #36 of the University of South Florida Bulls at Notre Dame Stadium on September 3, 2011 in South Bend, Indiana. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Now that we have some game film, we can finally breakdown our opponents for the week.
Ball State runs the spread option with their a base 3 WR/1 RB/1 TE set. New Coach Pete Lembo is try to transition the Cardinals to the spread, but it is going to be a work in progress this year. From what I saw, the Cardinals throw a lot of short passes to try to keep moving the chains and spring their speedy wide receivers for a possible big gain. Expect to see BSU run some 1 RB/2 TE/2 WR sets along with your basic I Formation when they want to run the ball.
Starting for the Cardinals is Soph. Keith Wenning.The 6'4" 220 lb Wenning had a fantastic game against Indiana on Saturday. Wenning went 23-29 against Indiana for 173 yards and 2 touchdowns. Keith also ran the ball 8 times for 61 yards and a touchdown.
Wenning played as good as you can on Saturday against the Hoosiers. Wenning went through his progressions well and almost always found the open receiver. Keith has a pretty decent arm, and can thread the needle when asked to. I don't think I saw an instance on Saturday where he misplaced a pass when the defense was covered. Wenning rarely passed downfield (Only 5.9 YPA), but the one time he did created the winning score to Connor Ryan near the end of the 3rd quarter.
Wenning also correctly made the correct decision when running the read option. Although he isn't the quickest guy with the ball, Wenning was able to find a crease to consistently gain 4-5 yards a carry. Almost Grothesque in his running ability.
Ball State only used two running backs, and they really provide a really nice inside-outside combination. The Cardinals started Barrington Scott out of the backfield, and he provided a nice outside attack for BSU. Scott was used mostly on stretch zone plays and the occasional read option inside when was available. the 5'11" 205 lb Junior is also an exceptional pass catcher out of the backfield, and the angle routes tore up the Hoosiers defense early in the game. The Bulls' linebackers will be on the lookout for that all night.
The other back the Bulls should look for is Freshman Jahwan Edwards. The 5'10" 230 lb Edwards is the inside option for the Cardinals, and he was really impressed with the way he played in his first game for BSU. Edwards consistently found an open lane on the read option, and pushed the pile forward when he was wrapped up. Wouldn't be surprised if he starts Saturday.
Ball State likes to get spread it around among a bunch of different receivers. Leading the charge are seniors Briggs Orbson and Toriel Gibson. Both players each had 5 catches, but in different ways. Orbson is your classic flanker, runs really crisp routes and has some nice hands (He also has a 4.0 GPA, which you'll hear between 10-20 times on TV Saturday). Gibson made a lot of his yards on bubble and slip screens, and has some speed once he gets into some open field.
Jack Tomlinson also had a pretty decent game with 4 catches, but he looked like he picked up a slight hamstring injury. Connor Ryan wasn't used all that often, but he did catch a nice fade in the endzone to give the Cardinals the lead in the 3rd quarter. TE Zene Fakes is used more as a blocking TE, but he did have a catch on Saturday.
Really came away impressed with the offensive line, especially with Center Kreg Hunter and Guards Kitt O'Brien and Jordan Hansel. They consistently pushed back the Hoosiers' defensive front, giving Scott and Edwards plenty of space to break through for a nice gain. Austin Holtz and Dan Manick also did a great job at tackle protecting the edge and giving Wenning plenty of time to find the open receiver. This will be a good battle for our DL Saturday. The Ball State line averages right around 300 lbs and they are an aggressive bunch.
That's all for the offense, I'll have the defense up tomorrow.