What To Watch For: Week 5 (Central Michigan)

BY NATHAN GANGER | Ball State Sports Link

The Ball State defense slowed down a Toledo offense with a ton of fire power in a 27-24 road victory over the Rockets.

Now, the Cardinals face the Central Michigan Chippewas in a battle of 3-1 teams. Sports Link GameDay LIVE hits the social feeds at 1 p.m. Saturday, followed by the kick at 2 p.m. on ESPNU.

Ball State’s run defense vs RBs Lew Nichols III and Kobe Lewis?

Against Toledo, the Cardinals shut down the Rocket run game by allowing just 42 rushing yards on 28 carries. The week before, Toledo ran for 191 yards on 44 carries.

First-year defensive coordinator Tyler Stockton had a terrific game plan against a team averaging over 40 points per game and 500 total yards of offense.

Christian Albright

The Ball State defense recorded four sacks and 12 tackles for loss, but specifically Christian Albright and Anthony Ekpe made the biggest impact.  

Albright had one sack and 1.5 tackles for loss, while Ekpe recorded 1.5 sacks and 1.5 tackles for loss including the game-sealing strip sack of Toledo quarterback Eli Peters.  

The task gets even more difficult for Ball State’s defense this week because Central Michigan ran for 318 yards on 57 carries last week vs Eastern Michigan.

The one-two punch of Lew Nichols III and Kobe Lewis combined for 302 rushing yards and three touchdowns.  

The key to this specific matchup is Ball State’s linebackers. If they react quick and swarm to the football, this defense can slow down the rushing attack.

This is an experienced defense that has seen a lot and been through a lot together. It’s do or die time for the Cardinals.

A win sets up a clash next Saturday with Western Michigan for a trip to Detroit, but a loss likely ends any chance of getting to the MAC Championship game. 

Will Caleb Huntley return to the lineup? 

Senior running back Caleb Huntley suffered a rib injury vs NIU and missed last week’s game at Toledo. Huntley is the workhorse of this Ball State offense and he takes their offense to another level.

Through the first three games this season, Huntley ran for 437 yards and six touchdowns, half of what he had last year (6).  

Tye Evans got the start in place of Huntley and ran for 101 yards on 25 carries. Evans was a solid replacement and made the most of his opportunity because Will Jones also was out with injury.  

Rib injuries are extremely painful and tricky to handle, so if Huntley can’t go on Saturday then look for more from Tye Evans. 

After Central Michigan quarterback Daniel Richardson suffered a leg injury, backup Ty Brock will make his first start? 

Daniel Richardson was carted off with an air cast on his left leg after being injured in the third quarter of CMU’s game against Eastern Michigan. An unfortunate injury for the true freshman, who threw for 769 yards and four touchdowns this season.

With that injury, Ty Brock will step into the starting lineup for his first start for the Chippewas. Brock completed nine passes for 62 yards in the win against EMU.  

Brock spent three seasons at Division II Sam Houston State, where he played in 21 games, throwing for 3885 yards and 24 touchdowns.  

Head coach Jim McElwain liked what he saw from Brock in Saturday’s win: 

“I was really impressed with how he handled it during the (EMU) game,” McElwain said. “There was no hesitation.” 

Nathan Ganger

Author: Nathan Ganger