By: Donnie Harmon
Ball State Sports Link
It was a disappointing trip out west for the Ball State Cardinals football team. Looking to rebound from a tough loss against national power Penn State, the defending MAC champs instead found themselves on the wrong end of a 45-12 final against the Wyoming Cowboys.
One bright spot was undoubtedly the performance by junior wide receiver Jayshon Jackson, who totaled 10 receptions for 92 yards, more than his totals in the first two games combined.
Jackson, who transferred to Ball State in the offseason after finishing second in receiving yards (337) on top 10 ranked Cincinnati, had high expectations entering the season. While he was quiet in the first two games of the season, against Wyoming he showed just how dynamic and impactful he can be.
With the passing game struggling as a whole, Jackson was the one consistency throughout, as he accounted for well over half of the Cardinal’s yards through the air, as well as 10 of 21 receptions. With wide receiver Justin Hall having an unusually quiet game with just three receptions, Jackson adequately filled that void as a high volume receiver in the game. He was also responsible for many of the Cardinals’ biggest plays downfield.
When Ball State did move the ball for extended drives, it was largely due to the efforts of Jackson. In a scoreless first half, Jackson made two of the best plays, a 19 yard reception (the longest play from scrimmage for BSU in the first half), and a 9 yard reception at the end of the half to set up a closer field goal attempt.
With backup quarterback John Paddock replacing Drew Plitt at halftime, Jackson gave him a reliable target to throw to, which could help the backup gain confidence going forward. There was clear chemistry between the two in the second half, as they connected for completions 6 times. The biggest of these receptions came in the third quarter, when they connected for a gain of 22 yards on 3rd and 10, which was critical in helping the Cardinals score their first touchdown of the game on that drive.
While it was a disappointing game overall, Jackson finding his groove in the new offensive system bodes well for the whole team going forward. While the start to the season has not gone quite as planned, Jackson and the rest of the team still have their goal of back to back MAC championships in front of them, as they have yet to play in conference. Ball State will look to right the ship when they return home next Saturday to take on Toledo to kick off MAC conference play.