Ball State faces tough Patriot League foe in Colgate on Saturday
Coach Lembo excited about new season, new quarterback, defensive linemen
By Rick Yencer
MUNCIE, INDIANA (SPORTS) - Ball State coach Pete Lembo is always excited at the start of any football season.
And Saturday's home opener with Colgate at 2 p.m. will be the first test of new quarterback Ozzie Mann and defensive end Mike Ayres who succeed recordbreaking passer Keith Wenning how trying out with the Baltimore Ravens and lineman Jonathan Newsome, a rookie for the Indianapolis Colts.
Lembo, fourth year Ball State coach, does make comparisons with past and present players.
With Mann getting limited time during Wenning's career, he did throw nine passes last year although never started a game, And he comes from a football family given his dad, Reece, was quarterback for Franklin College and also coached high school football. Ozzie Mann also was a product of Delta Football Coach Grant Zgunda's program.
Lembo was confident of Mann's performance, mentioning how he had improved from spring to the start of the season.
Ayres did get a career start last season and had a record right tackles in the Army game. The last two seasons, he combined 24 tackles for loss with 16.5 sacks.
The coach also pointed to lots of improvement by Ayres along with others who stepped up like receiver KeVonn Mabon who was hurt last season and has returned besides linebacker Aaron Taylor.
Colgate also has a young quarterback in Jake Melville who did start in one game last season and played in five, racking up 425 yards with 148 rushing and 277 passing.
In his debut game, Melville went in for an injured quarterback and beat Cornell 41-20.
Lembo anticipated Colgate would roll out a tough defense besides having a more experienced quarterback.
Ball State came off a 10-3 season last year and an appearance at the GoDaddy Bowl. And the Cardinals have won 16 of their last 18 regular season contests.
But the preseason poll by the Mid American Conference only had Ball State third in the western division, again behind Northern Illinois and Toledo.
Watch the Ball State Colgate contest on ESPN 3. The next contest is Sept. 6 at Iowa,