Head coach Pete Lembo talks to the football team after the spring game on April 19 at Scheumann Stadium. DN PHOTO BREANNA DAUGHERTY
FOOTBALL: Lembo's Language
Lembo's Language is a weekly article, where chief football reporter David Polaski dissects statements made by Ball State head football coach Pete Lembo in his press conference.
Coach, have you been a part of a more banged up team in your tenure?
Lembo: “No ... I don’t make excuses for that kind of stuff ... at the end of the day, nobody really cares. You’ve got to do your best to prepare your team, put your best foot forward.”
David’s explanation: Since Lembo’s first job as a head coach at Lehigh in 2001, he said he’s never coached a team that’s seen so many impactful injuries. Depth at safety has gotten to the point that redshirt freshman Ralph Smith, who was intended to be a wide receiver, has been brought to safety for insurance. Missing so many key players has had a noticeable impact on the defense, but has allowed players like linebacker Sean Wiggins and cornerback Dedrick Cromartie to shine.
With the emergence of Cromartie as a young defensive playmaker, do you see him maintaining his role through this season and into the next?
Lembo: “While [safties] Martez Hester and Dae’Shaun Hurley are healing up, there’s an opportunity for Dedrick to continue to grow and develop. Even when those guys are back, you want competition, guys who have played before.”
David’s explanation: One positive that’s come from all the defensive injuries is the emergence of Cromartie. He’s fast and aggressive, tallying two interceptions in his limited time. Lembo said he expects Cromartie to benefit from the offseason program, and he expects him to continue to play a role on the team going into next season.
The crowds have been a little smaller, is that something you think about actively?
Lembo: “I concern myself with every aspect of the program ... I don’t think there’s any question that you’re not going to draw the same way as if you were winning nine or 10 games.”
David’s explantion: Attendance has gone down this season, for multiple reasons. The season opener, normally one of the highest attended games, took place on the Saturday of Labor Day weekend. Ball State’s struggles this season have also played a factor, as students and fans are less likely to get excited when the team isn’t playing well.