In the first week night Mid-American Conference game of the season where temperatures were in the 30s, it was freshman running back Carson Steele who put together a career night in Ball State Football’s 31-25 win over Akron.
Steele rushed for 154 yards on a career-high 27 attempts, with a five yard receiving touchdown. Head coach Mike Neu said his work ethic in practice has matched his talent and is the reason he has seen more action.
“To his credit, what he has been able to put on the practice field has been consistent,” Neu said. “Since the day he has shown up he has had really good practice habits. That has not changed. What has happened is that he has gotten more and more confident with the offense, knowing the offense, knowing blocking schemes and where the hit is likely to happen.”
Akron’s spread out defensive scheme is what Steele said helped him find more space in the open field. He also have credit to Ball State’s offensive line for blowing open those holes.
“We knew coming into this week that we were going to have to run the ball a lot,” Steele said. “I have to give credit up front where it was due. You wouldn’t be able to run 27 times if there wasn’t an O-line there blocking. Credit to them for coming out and crushing it. That is what makes me successful.”
It is always a goal of Neu for the Cardinals’ to establish the run. He said he was pleased with how well the offensive progressed throughout the game, despite the constant drop in temperature.
“I think you always want to establish the run,” Neu said. “We were able to run the ball effectively there in the first half. As the night went on, it got a little bit chilly out there. It was evident we felt strongly there about some of the blocking schemes. It was good to see everyone get stronger as the game went on.”
Fifth-year safety Bryce Cosby recovered a fumble at the one-yard line with a minute and a half left in the fourth quarter to prevent Akron from taking a lead . Steele needed to run for a couple of first downs in the final possession to clinch the game.
Cosby competes against Steele in practice and said he grows as a player each practice.
“Carson is getting more and more confident,” Cosby said. “As a freshman, you need that reassurance week in and week out. I think the stuff he does behind the scenes is what separates him. Carson is one of the most humble guys on the team. He puts his head down and works. We test him as older guys such as getting more physical with him as older guys. He has lived up to the expectations.”