BY PEYTON MONNELL| Ball State Sports Link
Another week of #MACtion and it did not disappoint, especially for Ball State.
A dominating offensive performance from Caleb Huntley last week sincerely proved I had picked the right player to watch in Week 2.
Now Week 3, it’s safe to say, let’s try this again.
ANTWAN DAVIS – BSU – WR
Antwan Davis is potentially the most underrated wide receiver in the Mid-American Conference. Davis was third on Ball State in receptions last season (38), behind Justin Hall and Riley Miller.
He dissolved into a secondary option later in the season as he finished with 132 yards in his last five games as a redshirt-senior.
This year, already two games in, Davis is first on the team and third in the MAC in receptions (13) with 179 yards. A reduced schedule flipped the script for Davis as he has turned into a go-to guy for Drew Plitt.
Two games into the season, both decided on last plays of the game, Davis has been a key role in finding yards in clutch moments. Now, a familiar face stepping into the offensive coordinator role could have something to do with Davis seeing the ball a little more.
With Joey Lynch leaving Ball State and his brother Kevin Lynch taking over as offensive coordinator, Plitt has targeted Davis 13 times in two games for over 6 yards per reception.
What to expect versus NIU:
The Huskies defense last season didn’t fulfill the role of putting pressure on the quarterback, and they have started the same way this season. NIU had to rebuild its front four this offseason after losing DE Matt Lorbeck and DT Jack Heflin to the Iowa Hawkeyes.
With the rebuilding, Plitt could have the ability to find more time in the pocket which will allow Davis to break the coverage of the youthful secondary. Six of the 11 defensive players on head coach Thomas Hammock’s squad are freshmen.
A team that allows over 44 points per game, and 185 yards through the air per game, Davis could see a scattering amount of receptions. A veteran corner out of Dillon Thomas, is really the only returner the Huskies secondary sees.
Expect a huge game from Davis.
TYRICE RICHIE – NIU – WR
A newcomer to the 2019 squad at Northern Illinois, Tyrice Richie did not fall short of becoming a playmaker in his first year as a Huskie.
Although he did not gain a ton of yards last season (415), Richie still managed to find the end zone four times for a team high.
Richie placed fourth on the team in receptions list last season, behind Cole Tucker, Daniel Crawford and Mitchell Brinkman. With the loss of Mitchell Brinkman to USF, Richie becomes a more valuable option.
Similar to Antwan Davis, Richie has 16 receptions for 176 yards, which sits seventh in the MAC heading into Week 3. With his ability to split the defense and use his speed, the 6-foot receiver looks to be a primary target this year.
Although a veteran offense heading into this season, Northern Illinois is still third to last in points per game. A spark from Richie in Wednesday’s game could be the fuel NIU needs to finish off the season with a winning record.
What to expect versus BSU:
A Ball State defense with almost an entire veteran unit, could be a tall task for Ross Bowers in finding Richie. Two all-conference corners return for Ball State, in which only three teams in the entire FBS did that this season (LSU, Boise State and Ball State).
Although, a very rough first two games, the defensive secondary could lead to Richie finding some targets, especially early in the game. Keeping the corners and safeties on their toes, will be the key for Bowers.
Experienced defensive players are hard to beat, but a slight breakdown in coverage has led to Ball State giving up 34.5 points per game.
If NIU catches Ball State early, it could be an exclamation point on the season for Tyrice Richie.