Bringing The Pressure

BY NICK LAWLER| Ball State Sports Link

Last week, the Cardinals came out on top against an electric Toledo team.

The key to that success? The revamped pass rush racked up four sacks and had a number of impact plays throughout the game.

The most impressive part of this feat was Toledo had only given up three sacks total in its first three contests.  

While the Rockets were able to pick up over 400 yards through the air, Ball State was able to put pressure on their quarterbacks and make stops when it mattered the most.

Christian Albright, who won MAC West Defensive Player of the Week for his efforts, came through with a sack on 4-and-3 to slow a comeback effort early in the fourth, and Anthony Ekpe followed that up with a strip sack to end Toledo’s final attempt to win the game.

The Cardinals defense was truly a force to be reckoned with last Saturday, and that force must continue through Week 5 in order to keep the dream alive against Central Michigan.

Central Michigan has been pretty formidable against the pass rush thus far, allowing only two a game. However, perhaps this Cardinals pass defense, led by grad transfers Ekpe and Chris Agyemang, could post its second straight four-sack contest of the season.

If Ekpe, who is tied for the conference lead in sacks, and Ball State can establish a dominant defensive tone early against the Chippewas, they can expect to have the same success.  

Central Michigan’s offense is primarily ran through its strong run game, where it picks up almost 240 yards per game, but Ball State has been very stout against the run this year.

If Ball State can prevent the Chippewas from establishing the run early, that will force CMU to test the Cardinals through the air. If the pass rush can capitalize on those opportunities and force Central Michigan to become a one-dimensional team on offense, you can expect Ball State to stay strong on its path to Detroit.

Sports Link GameDay LIVE hits the social feeds at 1 p.m. Saturday, followed by the kick at 2 p.m. on ESPNU.

Author: Nick Lawler