FOOTBALL: Reporter's notebook

Sean Baker was determined to not let a broken hand slow him down.

The safety suffered the injury during Ball State University's game at Army and finished the game anyway. He begged coach Stan Parrish to let him play the next week at Auburn University, but Parrish held him out. Baker was back the next week with a large protective cast on his right hand.

But after a pair of subpar games for the reigning Mid-American Conference Freshman of the Year, Baker will wear a smaller cast. He won't miss the larger model though.

"I wouldn't volunteer to wear it, let's put it that way," Baker said.
The sophomore has 23 tackles in the first six games this year, down from 44 at this point last year. He admitted that the injury has impacted his play on the field.
"It's harder to tackle with one hand, but there are no excuses," Baker said. "I have to do better, make more plays [and] help the defense."

The Cardinals' secondary has struggled this year to make plays. Baker has one interception and a fumble recovery as well. Parrish said he needs Baker and senior safety Alex Knipp to step up.

"We desperately need [Baker] and Alex to get their hands on some footballs," Parrish said. "We've had one interception out of our safeties, and that came on opening night when Bake picked up a guy he wasn't guarding and intercepted a pass in the end zone against North Texas."

Baker was unsure if he would have been able to haul in an interception with his bulky cast.

"It would be a battle," he said. "But I'd do what I can to get it into my body."


Glenville connection: Ball State has four players from Glenville (Cleveland) High School on its roster. Saturday, three will be in the starting lineup and a fourth will see playing time.
Freshman Travis Freeman and Jason Pinkston and sophomore Tori Gibson are all expected to start against Bowling Green State University. Freshman Theon Dixon is expected to contribute on defense as well.

Freeman led the team with 10 tackles last week and Gibson had five catches for 110 yards and a touchdown.

"The Glenville group is just about all in," Parrish said. "Coach [Ted] Ginn will be happy. He needs to send us a few more this year."


Turnovers: Ball State has turned the ball over 17 times this season, including five at Temple University last week.

That was too many for Parrish.

"No team is suited to overcome five turnovers, let alone our team right now," he said. "We work on it everyday, I thought we were, to a degree, over that a little bit."

One fumble came from senior tailback MiQuale Lewis. It was Lewis' second fumble of the year.

"Ball security is my No. one job," he said. "I can't have a mental lapse out there."
 

High bar: Parrish is committed to maintaining his expectations of play for the remainder of the season despite an 0-6 record.

"I'm not lowering the bar," Parrish said. "This is not a popularity contest. This is trying to do the best we can do for the team."


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