Birdwatching: Week 4 Toledo

By: Dane Massey

Ball State Sports Link

After going on a tough two week road trip, the Cardinals return home for their first Mid-American Conference game against the Toledo Rockets.

Ball State has not lost a conference matchup since November of 2020 and looks to extend its conference winning streak to seven games.  

Toledo much like Ball State is also coming off a tough two week stretch. However they almost managed to pull off an upset over 12th ranked Notre Dame in South Bend, losing to the Fighting Irish by only three points.

Regardless of what’s happened the first three weeks of the season, both teams still have high hopes coming into MAC play. Toledo is currently just ahead of Ball State as the favorite to win the MAC Championship this year.

As the Cardinals get set to take on the Rockets, here are a few players to keep an eye on for their first conference matchup of the season.  

Dynamic Backfield Duo

The backfield duo of Will Jones and Carson Steele has been phenomenal in the run game for the Cardinals, both combining for over 100 yards and two touchdowns last week against Wyoming. 

Freshman Carson Steele is on a three game touchdown streak to start his collegiate career, while averaging over six yards a carry and leading the team with 176 yards on the ground. Steele has seen his activity increase over the last weeks with a season high 13 carries last week at Wyoming.

Will Jones on the other hand has scored a touchdown in two out of the three games this season and is just behind Steele with 156 yards on 36 carries through three games.

Expect Ball State to lean on its run game to get the offense going behind their experienced offensive line against a familiar opponent in Toledo.

Tavion Woodard

The sophomore defensive lineman out of West Lafayette has had a massive impact on the defensive side of the ball for Ball State. Out of the six total tackles he has had, four of them have been sacks.

Averaging a sack a game thus far, Woodard is looking to be an instrumental part of the Cardinal’s front seven.

“He always showed up, so as he’s gotten stronger in the weight room and he’s really developed his body and become a smarter football player I’m not surprised because we see that from Tavion day in, day out,” head coach Mike Neu said on Woodard after his two sack performance week one. “Anytime we have one on one matchups in practice with O-line and D-line he does a good job and he’s tough so to see him have that kind of night, proud of him because he’s worked hard to get himself in that position.”

The last time the Cardinals were at home, Woodard came away with back to back sacks to stop a Western Illinois drive just before half. Look for Woodard to give Toledo’s offensive line fits, who has already given up 14 sacks through three games.  

The Cardinals and Rockets will kickoff at 2 p.m. tomorrow at Scheumann Stadium. Follow along with @bsusportslink for more updates.

Author: Dane Massey