Meet the Cardinals of Ball State

Ball State shocked Navy last year in overtime. What makes this team tick? GoMids.com's Chris Rohe gives you all the details on a very good Ball State Cardinals football team.

Location: Muncie, Indiana
Enrollment: 17,285
Colors: Cardinal and White

Former Cardinals: Blaine Bishop - Safety - Houston Oilers/Tennessee Oilers /Tennessee Titans (1993-2001); Philadelphia Eagles (2002), Brad Maynard - Punter - New York Giants (1997-2000); Chicago Bears (2001-present), Reggie Hodges – Punter - St. Louis Rams (2005); Philadelphia Eagles (2005) ; Indianapolis Colts (2006-2007); Seattle Seahawks (2008), Bernie Parmalee - Miami Dolphins (1992 - 1998); New York Jets (1999-2000), (not football related) David Letterman - Talk Show Host

Coaching

Coach Brady Hoke, also a former Cardinal, is entering his sixth year as the head man in Muncie. He is one of only 18 coaches to be the head coach of their alma mater in 2008. Coach Hoke led the Cardinals to a 7-6 record and a bowl appearance in 2007. This marked the first time Ball State was in a bowl since 1996. Before becoming a head coach, Coach Hoke spent 6 seasons as an assistant at Oregon State (1989-1994) and 8 at Michigan (1995-2002). At Michigan he was Defensive Line coach for the 1997 National Championship team and added Associate Head Coach to his title for the 2002 season. The Cardinals have a staff that is very familiar with each other. Running Backs Coach Eddie Faulkner, Defensive Line Coach Phil Burnett, Defensive Coordinator/ Linebackers Coach Mark Smith and Assistant Head Coach/ Special Teams Coordinator Ed Stults have been with Coach Hoke all six seasons at Ball State.

Offense

Junior Nate Davis (#13) is already Ball State's all time leader in touchdown passes with 51. Davis (6-2, 217lb, Jr.) ranked 15th in the nation in total offense in 2007 averaging 300.31 yards per game. In the season opener against Northeastern, he finished 21 of 24 for 290 yards and three touchdowns. For his career Davis has 5,932 yards passing, only 340 yards behind Mike Neu on the Cardinals All-Time list. In 2007 he set a Ball State single season record passing for 3,667 yards. He finished last season with 30 touchdowns and only six interceptions. Davis is backed up by Tanner Justice (#17). Justice (6-3, 196lb, Jr.) is 3 of 4 for 37 yards in his career.

MiQuale Lewis (#33) has had a hard time staying healthy during is time in Muncie. Lewis (5-6, 184lb, Jr.) started the first four games of 2007 before suffering a knee injury. In 2006 he played in the first six games before a season-ending shoulder injury. Now the junior is healthy and hopes to stay that way. In the season opener against Northeastern, he rushed for 95 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries. His career high came last season in Annapolis, when he finished with 161 yards against the Mids. Also in the backfield rotation for the Cardinals is red shirt freshman Cory Sykes (#7). Sykes (5-7, 155lb, Fr.) rushed for 3,600 yards and 39 touchdowns in his high school career. He had 6 carries for 31 yards and a touchdown in his debut last week.

Senior Dante Love (#86) does a little bit of everything for the Cardinals. Love (5-10, 179lb, Sr.) is not only Nate Davis' favorite target; he carries the ball and returns kicks. He is second on Ball State's All-Time list for in Receiving Yards (2,489), Receptions (180) and 100-yard Games (10). Love has caught at least one pass in 36 of 37 games in his career, including 34 straight. In the season opener he finished with 9 catches for 171 yards and a touchdown. He also had 3 carries for 22 yards and a touchdown. Love is a star, but the other receivers on the Cardinal's roster are no slouches. Both Myles Trempe (#87) and Daniel Ifft (#4) are huge targets. Trempe (6-4, 202lb, So.) and Ifft (6-3, 181lb, So.) are big and provide a balance of skills compared to Love. Trempe played in 12 games as a red shirt freshman last season. He finished with 4 catches for 41 yards. Ifft played in all 13 games during his true freshman campaign. He finished with 9 catches for 83 yards and a touchdown. Ifft caught a 27 yard touchdown pass against Northeaster last Thursday. Both tight ends play a large part in the Ball State offense. Darius Hill (#88) is Ball State's All-Time leader in touchdown receptions with 25. Hill (6-6, 236lb, Sr.), a 2007 semifinalist for the John Mackey Award, had 5 catches for 45 yards and a touchdown in the 2008 season opener. But as good as Hill is, the coaching staff can't keep Madaris Grant (#82) off the field. Grant (6-5, 222lb, Jr.) had 3 catches for 24 yards in the opener.

The Ball State offensive line has a pair of experienced bookends. Both Andre Ramsey (#79) and Robert Brewster (#71) are returning starters. Ramsey (6-5, 304lb, Sr.) started 9 games as a true freshman, all 12 as a sophomore and 7 last season, all at left tackle. Right tackle Brewster (6-5, 310lb, Sr.) has played in all 37 games of his career, with 7 starts at right guard and 30 at right tackle. They are also experienced in the middle with Dan Gerberry (#52). Gerberry (6-3, 292lb, Sr.) has started all 37 games of his career at center. Youth is the theme at guard. Left guard Michael Switzer (#74) started all 13 games as a true freshman. Switzer (6-5, 277lb, So.) earned Ball State's John Hodge Award as the team's Most Outstanding Freshman. Right guard Kreg Hunter (#66) made his first career start last Thursday. Hunter (6-3, 284lb, Fr.) replaced Kyle Cornwell (#51). Cornwell (6-4, 272lb, Sr.) had started 14 games in his career at right guard.

Defense

While the Navy roster is filled with a host of future Marines, Brandon Crawford (#90) is a Marine. Crawford (6-3, 260lb, Jr.), a 32-year-old junior defensive end, received an honorable discharge from the Marine Corp in 2003. He had 17 tackles for loss and 8 sacks in 2007. Crawford had 3 tackles, including 0.5 tackles for loss against Northeastern. Nose Tackle Renee Perry (#95) played in all 13 games as a true freshman, with 3 starts. Perry (5-11, 271lb, So.) has 2 tackles in the opener. Ball State has plenty of experience at the defensive tackle position. Starter Drew Duffin (#65) has played in 23 career games. Duffin (6-3, 255lb, Jr.) had 2 tackles, including 0.5 tackles for loss last Thursday. Gonzalo Barinaga (#56) made 4 starts as a junior. Barinaga (6-2, 256lb, Sr.) has 19 career tackles, including 5.5 tackles for a loss and a sack. Robert Eddins (#91) starts at the rush end position. Eddins (6-3, 224lb, So.) recorded his first career sack against Northeastern in the opener. Justin Woodard (#85) will also see time at rush end. Woodard (6-3, 222lb, So.) has two career sacks.

The Cardinal linebacking unit is led by weak side backer Bryant Haines (#49). Haines (6-5, 223lb, Sr.) averaged a team high 9.62 tackles per game last season. He started all 13 games last season and earned second team All-Conference selection. Strong side backer Kenny Meeks (#99) played in all 13 games in 2007 with 7 starts. Meeks (6-2, 230lb, Sr.) recorded 4 tackles against Northeastern. Davyd Jones (#42) played in all 13 games as a true freshman and is now the starting middle linebacker. Jones (6-1, 200lb, So.) led Ball State in tackles in his first start last Thursday. He recorded 8 tackles, including 1.5 tackles for a loss. Antonio Beasley (#59) and Spain Cosby (#48) provide added depth. Beasley (6-0, 219lb, Sr.) has played in 18 career games while Cosby (5-11, 212, Jr.) has played in 22.

Ball State has three experienced corners entering the season. Starter B.J. Hill (#3) is a converted running back. Hill (5-7, 180lb, Sr.) started 5 games on offense during his freshman and sophomore campaigns. After moving to defense, he started 12 games last season. Hill tied for a team lead with 5 interceptions. Starting on the other side of Hill will be Trey Buice (#8). Buice (5-10, 175lb, Sr.) has 17 career starts. He recorded 6 tackles and a pass breakup in the season opener. The third corner is the most experienced. Trey Lewis (#12) has 34 career starts and 8 career interceptions. Lewis (6-0, 190lb, Sr.) finished last season with 59 tackles. Strong safety Alex Knipp (#38) started 10 games last season, including the final nine. Knipp (6-0, 194lb, Jr.) has a career 118 tackles and 6 interceptions. Free Safety Derrick Henry (#6) played in all 13 games as a true freshman. Henry (6-1, 189lb, So.) finished the season opener with 5 tackles. Reserve safety Sean Baker (#25) had 7 tackles against Northeastern. Baker (6-1, 205lb, Fr.) red shirted last season.

Special Teams

The most experienced member of the Cardinals' special teams may be its most talented. Chris Miller (#35) finished 3rd in the nation with an average of 45.44 yards per punt. Miller (6-2, 211lb, Sr.) is a two-time Playboy Magazine Preseason All-American and was named to the American Football Coaches Association All-America First Team last season.

Sophomore Ian McGarvey (#26) handles the place kicking duties. McGarvey (5-9, 210lb, So.) was 7 of 9 on field goals during his freshman campaign. He converted on kicks of 25 and 46 yards in the season opener.

Both returners have special skills. Punt returner is cornerback B.J. Hill and wide receiver Dante Love returns kickoffs. Hill averaged 30 yards per return against Northeastern, with a long return of 72 yards. Love is Ball State's All-Time kickoff return leader with 1,862 return yards.

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