Week In The Wild West: Keys and Trends

By: Nick Lawler

Ball State Sports Link

Another week, another non-conference matchup on the road for the Cardinals. This Saturday, Ball State will travel to Wyoming in hopes of getting back in the win column against the Cowboys. 

The last time that the Cardinals faced a current Mountain West opponent was 19th-ranked San Jose State in the Arizona Bowl. As we all know, Ball State would leave that game with their first ever bowl victory. 

Coming off of a tough loss to the Nittany Lions, now ranked 10th in the nation, Head Coach Mike Neu believes his squad just needs to execute their game plan better. 

“We’ve got to get our edge back, we’ve got to go back to our roots,” Neu stated. “We’ve got to go back to some of the things that helped us climb a mountain, if you will. 

Ground ‘n’ Pound

Ball State has seen a lot of success on the ground through two games this season. Senior Will Jones and Freshman Carson Steele have seen the bulk of the action, leading the Cardinals to almost 150 rushing yards per game. 

They have a great opportunity to do this once again, against a Wyoming defense that was ran all over by Northern Illinois one week ago.  

Do not be surprised if Ball State stays true to its offensive identity once again. In fact, the Cardinals could rack up over 200 yards on the ground in this one. 

Weapons on Offense

Ball State has not started the season off hot in the passing game. However, super senior Drew Plitt has the experience and leadership to buck that trend in Week 3. 

Coming off of a two-interception performance against Penn State, Plitt will surely be hungry to shred Wyoming’s defense. While the running game should carry the bulk of the load on Saturday, there will be plenty of opportunities for Plitt to get back on track. 

Plitt’s favorite target, Justin Hall, comes into this week just 87 yards shy of becoming the Cardinals’ all-time leading receiver. Already a Ball State legend, this week is the perfect opportunity for Hall to collect that accolade and help the Cardinals return to form. 

Look for fellow playmakers Yo’Heinz Tyler and Jayshon Jackson to play a bigger role in this matchup as well. Both receivers have showed flashes thus far, but they can be utilized more to make this offense deadly. 

Cowboys on the Run

Wyoming will come out of the gates running the football. In fact, they may run the ball all day if we let them. Thus far, the Cowboys pounded the rock 88 times, a far cry from their lowly 49 pass attempts.  

Therefore, the gameplan is simple. If Ball State can stall the run game, and force Cowboys QB Sean Chambers to beat them through the air, the Cardinals will leave this game on top. 

Wyoming running back Xazavian Valladay is coming off of a 100-yard performance that kept the Cowboys afloat despite Northern Illinois’ roaring comeback attempt. They will look to lean on him once again, so limiting his impact on this game is the key to victory for Ball State. 

Author: Nick Lawler