Although not the recognition it may have planned for, Ball State football has a chance to do something that no FBS football team has done this season.
If Ball State starts redshirt freshman Drew Plitt against Eastern Michigan on Thursday, the Cardinals will be the first FBS team this season to start four quarterbacks.
In Ball State’s game against Toledo last Thursday, third-string redshirt sophomore quarterback Zack Blair left the game during Ball State’s second possession with a broken ankle, leaving the Cardinals offense in the hands of fourth-string quarterback Plitt.
“Drew Plitt stepped in and it’s hard when you step in like that,” head coach Mike Neu said. “I thought he handled himself very well and I complimented him at the end of the game. I told him I was very proud of him for the situation that he was in and to play the way that he did and compete.”
Blair’s injury marks the third injury the team has had to overcome with its quarterbacks. Starting junior quarterback Riley Neal and backup senior quarterback Jack Milas are currently out with injuries.
The Ball State football program has not seen four true quarterbacks play in a single season since 1984.
“I’ve been through some funky things before in my career as a coach, but this is up there,” Neu said. “It’s hard because I have to at least start off the season with so much optimism and so much excitement and yet, this happens.”
Plitt, a Loveland, Ohio native, attended Loveland High School where he was the football team captain and earned honorable mention all-district as a senior. He also led the team to a 2013 state title and owns the school record for career passing touchdowns.
In his collegiate debut against Toledo, Plitt completed 15 of 34 passes for 97 yards. He lead the Cardinals with two touchdown drives and did not turn the ball over.
“It was nice to get out there and get a little experience on the field,” Plitt said. “I was definitely not excited that he got hurt, but I really didn’t have time for nerves. I was just ready to go out there and play.”
Plitt is expected to start in Thursday’s matchup against Eastern Michigan, where Ball State will look to snap a five-game losing streak. Kickoff is at 6 p.m.
“I’ve been preparing the same as I have the past few weeks, preparing like I’m a starter,” Plitt said. “I’m comfortable with all of the playbook and there’s nothing that I don’t think I can do.”
Contact Kara Biernat with comments at firstname.lastname@example.org