Quick thoughts: Ball State

Already getting emails calling for Army coach Rich Ellerson to be fired two games into the season.

Don’t know what the expectations of Army fans were playing Ball State, a veteran offensive team with lot of firepower.

Especially on the road, where Army has now lost 14 in a row away from Michie Stadium under Ellerson.

Maybe, like me, fans expected Army to be more competitive.

Yes, Army did revert to its past, turning the ball over three times. Ball State scored 10 points off those turnovers.

But, in my opinion, the most telling statistic was zero sacks by Army.

If Army was going to have any chance in this game, it needed to pressure Ball State quarterback Keith Wenning and make him uncomfortable in the pocket.

Wenning threw 32 passes and I can only remember him hitting the turf a few times.

Army waited too long to bring a heavy blitz and let Wenning dissect its secondary in the first quarter.

Don’t know if it was by design but Army left sophomore strong safety Shaquille Tolbert in too many 1-on-1 coverages.

Army junior free safety Geoff Bacon, the team’s top tackler, had a quiet game. Bacon had just four tackles.

After Army junior Larry Dixon’s 71-yard touchdown run on the game’s third play, Dixon had just 13 yards on six carries the rest of the first half. Ball State’s defense made a decision that Dixon wasn’t going to beat them and Army couldn’t get quarterback Angel Santiago or the outside game of Raymond Maples and Terry Baggett going.

The old football adage that a team sees it’s biggest improvement between its first and second game doesn’t apply here because the step up in competition from Morgan State to Ball State.

Watched the play again and Ball State’s Chris Calloway definitely launched his body and led with helmet when he hit Stephen Fraser on a kick return. Not sure if the rules account for a “defenseless” kick returner but that’s exactly what Fraser. The hit caused a fumbled, which Ball State recovered at Army’s 11 in the third quarter.

 

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