CHIRP: The Edge - Ball State vs. Southeast Missouri State

Quarterbacks

Ball State – Kelly Page is ready to get back on the field after missing the final five games of last season with a broken thumb. His freshman numbers weren't impressive, but he showed improvement throughout the fall and won the starting job again in camp. Freshman Keith Wenning might get some playing time as well.

Southeast Missouri State – Junior Matt Scheible returns as the Redhawks starter. Last season, he threw for 1,596 yards and 11 touchdowns. He was also intercepted 13 times. Scheible can run as well, and Stan Parrish said he was impressed by what he saw on video.

AdvantageCardinals – When Page was hurt last year, it stunted his development. But after surgery and a good offseason, he should be ready to step right in and lead Ball State's offense.

Running backs

Ball State – There's no question this position is the Cardinals' strength. With MiQuale Lewis back for a fifth year, Ball State has a formidable trio that will be difficult to stop all season. With Parrish committed to getting Lewis, Cory Sykes and Eric Williams on the field together as much as possible, Cardinals' fans will be treated to exciting football.

Southeast Missouri State – The Redhawks return their top three rushers from last year as well. Senior Henry Harris led Southeast Missouri State with 720 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. Scheible was Southeast Missouri State's second leading rusher, typically not a good sign for an offense. But the running backs are experienced, as the top three on the depth chart are all seniors.

AdvantageCardinals – After Page was injured, the running backs took over Ball State's offense. With Page healthy, opponents will have to respect the passing game again, opening bigger holes in the defense for Lewis, Sykes and Williams to run through.

Wide receivers

Ball State – The Cardinals have a lot of options at wide receiver, but there's not a lot of experience to fall back on. Junior Briggs Orsbon led the team in receiving last year and will be counted on again. An exciting trio of redshirt freshmen Jamill Smith, Connor Ryan and Otis Brown should see plenty of action and are expected to contribute Thursday night.

Southeast Missouri State – The Redhawks lost Walter Peoples, their leading receiver last year. Chantae Ahamefule and Miles Edwards are back, though. Both had more than 300 receiving yards last season and combined for seven touchdowns. After Ahamefule and Edwards, however, there is a sharp dropoff.

AdvantageCardinals - Wide receiver is a bit of a question mark for Ball State, but there is talent there. Page will be able to find targets, it's just not clear who will emerge yet.

Defensive line

Ball State – The graduation of Brandon Crawford and Drew Duffin leave some uncertainty along the line for the Cardinals. All-Mid-American Conference defensive end Robert Eddins returns and has bulked up. Parrish is counting on the senior to get after opposing quarterbacks all season.

Southeast Missouri State – The Redhawks have a lot of experience on their defensive line, where three of the four starters are seniors. Defensive tackle J.J. Sanchez had 46 tackles last season, the most tackles of any returning lineman. Despite the experience of his teammates, none made big contributions last season.

AdvantageCardinals - Defensive line isn't Ball State's best position, but the Redhawks should be a good tuneup for the young Cardinals.

Secondary

Ball State – Like the defensive line, the Cardinals the secondary is a bit of an unknown. Ball State will start with more experienced players, but if they struggle like the group did last year, there are promising freshmen ready to step in. Safety Sean Baker will be called on to provide consistency from the beginning.

Southeast Missouri State – Another position where the Redhawks appear to have experience because they will start mostly juniors and seniors. A closer look shows this year's starters didn't do much last season. Safety Aris Bowen is the best of the group, coming off a 65-tackle, two-interception season.

Advantage – Cardinals - This is an important game for Ball State's secondary. The returning players need a good start to the season so they don't get pushed out of the lineup by the freshmen, who will be looking to start their careers on the right foot.


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