Secondhalf adjustments key for Cardinals' success
Second-half adjustments have been key to the Ball State football team's performance both offensively and defensively this season.
Head coach Pete Lembo spoke at his weekly press conference on Oct. 6, touching on the team's performance against Toledo.
One of the things that stuck out was the effectiveness of second half adjustments. Head coach Pete Lembo attributed last season's late game shortcomings to the injuries that plagued the defense.
Points Scored vs. Points allowed per quarter
Ball State - Opponents
1st Quarter - (9-31)
2nd Quarter - (41-74)
3rd Quarter - (41-13)
4th Quarter - (58-26)
“We had a ridiculous number of injuries on defense [last year],” Lembo said. “I would imagine that by the time we got a third of the way into the season the amount of guys we were playing on defense went way down.”
Last year, the Cardinals struggled in the fourth quarter, surrendering an average of 7.8 points compared to the 6.6 they allowed in each of the first three quarters.
Through the first five games, Ball State turned last season's weakness into a strong suit, allowing an average of just 5.2 points in the fourth quarter compared to 8.7 points in the first three quarters.
Some notable second-half performances include games against Eastern Michigan, Toledo and Texas A&M. Combined, they gave up only seven points in the second half of those contests.
In the game against Eastern Michigan on Sept. 19, the Eagles scored all of their 17 points in the second quarter before getting shut out in the second half.
Ball State held Toledo to zero in the second half as well, but couldn't muster enough offense in a 24-10 loss.
While the Cardinals are still banged up on defense this season, Lembo said the bench guys have stepped up in a big way.
“We've kind of forced our depth a little bit,” Lembo said. “I think that's helped.”
The defense isn't the only unit improving late in games for Ball State.
Through five games, the offense has scored just nine points in the first quarter but 41 in the second quarter. Collectively the Cardinals average 10 points per game in the first half.
The offense is more efficient later in games, putting up an average of 15.6 points after halftime.
Against Toledo, the Cardinals scored seven points in the second half. Despite errors that prevented more points, Lembo says the quicker pace on offense helped them score more efficiently against the Rockets after intermission.
“We came out ... faster, up-tempo on offense, and I thought that helped our rhythm a little bit,” Lembo said.
The Cardinals (2-3) will look to improve their first half production to go along with their efficiency late in games.
Ball State travels to Dekalb, Ill. on Oct. 10 for a Mid-American Conference team in Northern Illinois who sits at 2-3 on the season.