FOOTBALL: Wide receivers use size as advantage

Junior wide receiver Jordan Williams makes the catch during the game against Western Michigan at Scheumann Stadium on Oct. 10. DN PHOTO TAYLOR IRBY
Junior wide receiver Jordan Williams makes the catch during the game against Western Michigan at Scheumann Stadium on Oct. 10. DN PHOTO TAYLOR IRBY

When Ball State quarterback Jack Milas drops back to pass, his passes don’t always have to be perfectly on target.

The Cardinals' wide receivers Jordan Williams and KeVonn Mabon actually encourage him to toss the ball up, even during tight coverage, to let them go haul the pass in.

It’s one of the advantages of having the top two receivers on the team standing at 6-foot-2 and 6-foot-1. Both players also weigh at least 215 pounds.

“Being able to get off the line, go up and get the ball, be physical on the field, we use our size to our advantage as much as possible,” Williams said.

Often facing off against smaller cornerbacks and safeties, the Ball State duo has a distinct advantage. Milas can loft a pass into what seems like perfect coverage, only to see Williams or Mabon out-leap the defender and bring in the pass.

It’s exactly what Milas did early during Ball State’s game against Western Michigan. He lofted the ball up deep to Williams, who was covered down the right sideline. Williams went up around the three-yard line and came down with the ball before falling into the end zone for the touchdown.

It’s a recipe that’s worked well for Williams and Mabon throughout their careers.

“Because we’re more physical, we can take the fight to them," Mabon said. “We can take more damage than they can, so after four quarters, their bodies are going to be wearing down.”

With the opponents physically failing as the clock winds down, Williams and Mabon can use their speed to outrun, verticals to out-jump and overall strength to break tackles during critical moments.

“You can see it, they get this look in their eyes,” Mabon said. “It’s like Muhammad Ali used to do. In the 12th round, he knew he had them by using the jab all throughout the fight, then he came at them with the hook. That’s all we’re doing.”

Ball State will need every advantage it can get against Saturday’s opponent, Central Michigan. The Chippewas have the top passing defense in the Mid-American Conference, allowing just 204 yards per game through the air.

The size the Cardinals duo brings doesn’t just impact the passing game. When Ball State runs the ball, Williams and Mabon can overwhelm and outmuscle corners while blocking, opening up holes for Jahwan Edwards and Horactio Banks.

Because the receivers are usually lined up both to the right and the left, Ball State can have strong blocking from its wide receivers regardless of which direction it runs the ball.

“Being aggressive while blocking is more impactful because of our size,” Williams said. “We have an advantage that someone like Corey Lacanaria might not have, because we’re so much bigger.”

Williams and Mabon tower over Lacanaria, who stands at just 5-foot-8 and 170 pounds. With a natural physical gift, Ball State’s top two wide receivers take advantage of their size at every opportunity.

Ball State faces Central Michigan at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday on the road.

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