The Power of Experience

Experienced tight ends Eckert and Streit return to their roles in the 2002 season

The tight ends position lines up at the end of the offensive line next to the right tackle. They are in charge of blocking for the tailback and also runs patterns for receptions. Seniors Jon Eckert and Tim Streit will lead the Cardinals at the position. Starting in 10 games last season, Eckert caught 17 catches for 217 yards and one touchdown. Streit started in two games catching 10 passes for 131 yards and one touchdown last season. Of the 2002 recruiting class, Bryan Smith and redshirt freshman Tom Keller were the only tight ends to join the team. Keller plays at defensive end as well.

Expectations are high for the Ball State football team this season, especially for the tight end position, according to offensive coordinator and tight ends coach, Rich Spisak.

"The tight end is a big part of our offense," Spisak, offensive coordinator and tight ends coach, said. "We want more game-breaking plays and the tight ends help by receiving and blocking."

Spisak is in his 18th season at Ball State. This will be is eighth season as offensive coordinator and second season as tight ends coach.

This season, the tight end position will be led by seniors Jon Eckert and Tim Streit.

"Both Eckert and Streit have been playing football for a long time and are both fantastic athletes," said Spisak. "We often play a two tight end set and they are the bookends."

Experience will be a strength of the tight end position that will contribute to a successful season.

"I played a little my freshman year but for the last three years, Eckert and I have been playing the tight end position and we have the experience and we need to utilize that in order to be effective," Streit said.

The two seniors effectiveness plays a significant role in the offensive scheme as they are responsible for stimulating the running game.

"With the focus on Marcus (Merriweather), I want to help by opening up the passing game because it will keep the defense always thinking and on their heels," Streit said.

As important as the tight ends are to the running game, they would like to see their other skills utilized more often and in more effective ways.

Last season, Eckert and Streit combined to catch 27 passes for 348 yards and two touchdowns. This season, Ball State does not have a full receiver set, so the tight end will have to be more active and productive.

"We would like for both Eckert and Streit to have 40 to 50 catches this season with each of them touching the ball four to five times a game," Spisak said.

Both Eckert and Streit want to leave everything out on the field with this season being their final chance to play organized football.

"I want to catch more passes and open it up for the other receivers and take the stress and pressure off Marcus," Eckert said.

"I want to give it my all in every practice this year," Streit said. "Practice gets redundant, but I realize that this is my last chance to make the most of it."

This will be a very exciting season with Ball State traveling to play Missouri and Clemson, as well as starting a series with Indiana State, but Streit is not looking that far ahead.

"It has been a really long camp and we have been hitting the same people," Streit said. "I am looking forward to that first game where I can line up against someone different."

The start of the season is less than two weeks away, but there is optimism and confidence that Ball State will be playing in December.

"I hope that after the Marshall game on Nov. 30, we will still have two more games - the MAC championship game and a bowl game," Eckert said.

Eckert and Streit are the key players of the tight end position that will be expected to help lead this offense to a hopeful MAC championship.


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