What We Saw: With fully entrenched starter Riley Neal sitting out of spring practice after undergoing shoulder surgery in the off-season, it is impossible to see how Neal, who struggled for parts of his sophomore campaign, will play as a junior. Neal was praised by Ball State coaches for his time he has spent in the film room and getting “mental reps” in spring camp as he attempts to stay sharp and continue to learn. We expect a breakout year for Neal, but we will have to wait and see how he develops at fall camp.
The positive of having Neal on the sidelines though, is it has given a ton of more reps to the rest of the QB room. Backup Jack Milas, who started one game last season and a handful in each of the seasons before that, is a 5th year senior who is fully capable of taking the reins and leading the offense. Milas isn’t as gifted physically as Neal, but is a smart QB that is also experienced and getting additional reps in the spring means more comfort with the #1s in case he is needed. Also getting a ton of reps was Redshirt Sophomore Zack Blair. The undersized (5-11 188) walk-on surprised us with his arm strength and athleticism. Coach Mike Neu, has stated that Blair is one of the better athletes on the roster and has received playing time in the past as a gunner on special teams. Blair is intriguing because he has the ability to run and played in the Wing T in high school, so he could provide a wrinkle as a wildcat QB or to throw some option at defenses. The final QB in the room is redshirt Freshman Drew Plitt. Plitt has good size (6-2 217) and a strong arm, but has not gotten many reps so far. He has work to do to catch up with Milas and Blair.
Projected Depth Chart: Neal returns as the starter after a solid fall, Milas continues to be #2 but more ready for action this season, #3 Blair give the offense a different look and some possible trickery and #4 Plitt continues to grow
What Happens When The New Class Arrives: Nothing, the Cardinals lost out on their verbally committed QB late in the process and had no time to grab a late blooming prospect. Look for the Cardinal coaching staff to make finding a QB their top priority for 2017.