Ball State is already mid way through Spring Practice. With new Head Coach Mike Neu's promise of a "clean slate" and open competition for playing time, we take a close look at each position group and who we project to earn a starting role and playing time come fall.
First up is the quarterbacks.
Unless something crazy happens this spring, we can fully expect incumbent starter Riley Neal to stick in the starting role under center.
Neal, a 6-5 225 sophomore, was thrust into immediate playing time last season when former starter, Jr. Jack Milas struggled in his first few starts. Neal, a sturdy built passer in the pocket that has the ability to get out of the pocket and make plays with his feet, responded early and led the Cardinals to a victory over Eastern Michigan and a narrow loss at Northwestern before defenses caught up to him and the Cardinals conservative game planning under Pete Lembo.
Neal is now another year older, 10 pounds heavier, and has a full year under Offensive Coordinator Joey Lynch under his belt. Oh, and his new head coach is a former QB Coach for the New Orleans Saints, so there is high expectations and high hopes for the local product this season.
Truly, the results of the 2016 season ride on the capable shoulders of Neal. As an offensive minded coach, much is expected out of the Cardinals on offense under Mike Neu. As the defense rounds into form under new Defensive Coordinator Tim Daoust, Neal's performance in Neu's Saints' styled offensive plan will be the key to early wins and losses. The Cardinals have the talent at the skill positions, it will be up to Neal to get the ball to the playmakers and not turn the ball over.
Standing behind Neal on the depth chart is Milas, a smaller (6-1) QB, that is experienced and is a capable back up. Two seasons ago, Milas was the new, up and coming QB that took over for a more veteran QB mid season and led the Cardinals to a couple of victories, earning him the starting nod the rest of the season. That carried through to the start of the 2015 season, until he faltered early, especially against a stellar Texas A&M defense, and he found himself benched behind Neal. Milas has starting experience and a solid skill set and his ability gives the Cardinals a solid option at back up.
Currently sitting as the 3rd string QB is David Morrison. The redshirt sophomore has yet to see the field in his tenure in Muncie, but he is a capable player who is a student of the game and an assistant coach on the field.