Ball State football on the big screen begins Thursday
Lembo sees Illinois State as dangerous, ever changing
By Rick Yencer
MUNCIE, IN - Ball State's big home opener football game after a bowl game appearance last year and new replay screens will be met with an experienced Illinois State team that already is ranked in The Sports Network FCS preseason poll.
Pete Lembo, Ball State football coach, had plenty to say about summer practice, the Redbirds and how he is rebuilding some parts of the offense during his weekly media gathering this week.
Seeing Illinois State has dangerous with a similar 9-4 record and bowl appearance too, Lembo mentioned about big transfers the Redbirds got in Iowa State quarterback Jared Barnett and Ohio State linebacker and top recruit David Perkins.
Besides that, the Redbirds are returning 12 starters including all Missouri Valley Football conference selections Colton Underwood and Jordan Neukirch.
Lembo said the experience of those starters combined with the unknowns of Barnett and Perkins could keep the Cardinals busy.
But the coach, having two winning seasons since arriving, was confident that Ball State could defend and score as long as the team made no great mistakes. And it football, especially in most Division 1 games, it comes down to who controls the ball more.
Ball State will have quarterback Keith Wenning back calling the plays along with veteran receivers and rushers Jamill Smith, Jahwan Edwards and Willie Snead besides a big defensive line that can stop too many passes and runs.
It's the offensive line that will see some new, younger players, and Lembo mentioned Steve Bell and P.J. Scott as linemen will be put to the test on Thursday.
During the summer, Lembo and his staff were pleased that Ball State became a stronger team besides a better academic one, and there none of those late night calls about players getting into mayhem and trouble.
Lembo hopes to do what no other Ball State coach has done in a double of decades and have three straight winning seasons. And Lembo promised plenty of excitement to keep those fans in the stands throughout the season.
This season will be more dramatic with big screen replay for all the fans to cheer or boo. About $1 million is being spent to put Ball State before the lights and camera like much bigger Division 1 teams.
And that move means Ball State will still have to be more competitive in the Mid-American Conference where they struggle just to beat Western Michigan or Toledo some seasons.
Ball State also has a home game Sept. 7 when they play Army. Both home games can he seen on ESPN 3..