Cardinals in control of their own destiny

Team faces two former Ball State assistant coaches against Central Michigan

For the football team, it's crunch time.

Saturday's game will be Ball State's first of three Mid-American Conference West division games in the next four weeks. Central Michigan will travel to Muncie to take on the Cardinals at 1 p.m. Saturday.

Heading into Saturday's game, Ball State sits atop the MAC West division remaining undefeated in divisional play.

One thing Saturday's game will bring that will differ from the remaining West games this season is some familiar faces.

Central Michigan's head coach, Mike DeBord and a Chippewas' assistant coach, Curt Mallory are both former Ball State coaches.

Debord served as the offensive line coach for Ball State when the team won the MAC championship in 1989 while Mallory coached for the Cardinals for six years.

Current Ball State coach, Bill Lynch has much respect for both of the former Cardinal coaches.

"Mike DeBord is a really good friend of ours," Lynch said. "He has great ties to Ball State and the Muncie community. He's a great football coach. "

"Curt Mallory was a really important part of our staff for six years and he did a great job while he was here. A lot of the guys we are playing, he recruited."

Since both Central Michigan coaches have former ties to Ball State, Lynch expects them to come ready.

"I'm sure that their guys are going to be very well prepared and they are anxious to get back here and have a good showing in Muncie."

DeBord explained that he foresees Saturday's game as a close match up that will boil down the least amount of mistakes.

"It's going to be hard fought," DeBord said. "Both teams in my mind are very similar. It's going to be the team who makes the fewest mistakes and the team that capitilizes on those mistakes."

The thing that concerns DeBord the most against Ball State is the Cardinal defense.

"Their defense is first of all very well coached and I think the players play really hard," DeBord said. "Their kids are always in position to make plays and they are making the plays."

While the Cardinal defense has been the dominating factor for Ball State in its last two games, Lynch is looking to take a little pressure off of his defense and get the offense back in gear.

"We've tried to run the football all year," Lynch said. "We are best when we are able to run it. We do have to pick our passing up a little bit."

"In order for us to have success we are going to have to throw the ball a little better."

One thing the offense and quarterback Talmadge Hill has struggled with is turnovers. Hill has five in the last two games.

"It's more than we want to have," Lynch said. "It doesn't worry me, but it's something we have addressed.

"If you are going to be the quarterback you're going to be involved in some turnovers because you handle the ball in every play. Now, you have to limit those turnovers."

Tailback Marcus Merriweather agrees with Lynch in the fact the offense needs to turn things around.

"Our offensive has kind of been out of it for the past couple of weeks," Merriweather said. "I think this is a weekend that we really just need to come out and prove ourselves so that the defense isn't holding all the momentum for us."

Inside Linebacker Lorenzo Scott, who leads the team 83 tackles so far this season, said he and the other Cardinal defenders plan on stopping the Chippewa offense.

"We're going to hold their offense, that's always the game plan," Scott said. "Our defense is a little more sound this year. We have learned to limit the big plays and contain the run. "

Lynch continues to have faith in his defense heading into Saturday's game.

"Our defense has played great and has put us in a position to win all three games," he said. "They have to continue to do that."

One aspect of the game that has been perfect for the Cardinals has been the kicking game. Mike Langford, a true sophomore, became Lynch's go-to-guy in the placekicking position against Eastern Michigan, three weeks ago. Since then, Langford has hit four of four field goals and seven of seven extra points.

Lynch couldn't be much happier with the way Langford has turned out.

"He has really done his job," Lynch said. "His job is important because it directly effects points. Since we started playing him he's been perfect."

As for Saturday's contest with Central Michigan, Scott said it best when it came to placing importance on the West Divisional match up.

"We are playing with a lot more intensity and a lot more emotion," Scott said. "We are in a position that has put us on top right now. We can't lose so we won't lose."


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