Our analysis on the starters, top backups, history and trends for Clemson hosting Ball State on Sept. 8…
2011 Record: 6-6 (4-4 MAC, fourth in the West)
2012 Ball State Schedule
Aug. 30 EASTERN MICHIGAN (Thursday)
Sept. 8 at Clemson (12:30 ET, ACC Network)
Sept. 15 at Indiana
Sept. 22 USF
Sept. 29 at Kent State
Oct. 6 NORTHERN ILLINOIS
Oct. 13 WESTERN MICHIGAN
Oct. 20 at Central Michigan
Oct. 27 at Army
Nov. 6 at Toledo (Tuesday)
Nov. 10 Bye
Nov. 14 OHIO (Wednesday)
Nov. 23 at Miami OH (Friday)
Ball State Quick Profile
Coach: Pete Lembo (6-6 career record, 4-4 vs. MAC, 2nd year at Ball State).
Offense (2011 ranks): Spread (Total offense: 68th/Rush offense: 77th/Pass offense: 53rd)
Defense (2011 ranks): 4-3 (Total defense: 119th/Rush defense: 113th/Pass defense: 115th).
2011 Special Team Ranks: Net punting – 17th/Kickoff returns – 74th/Punt returns – 28th/Punt return yardage defense – 25th/Kick return yardage defense – 35th.
2011 Misc. stats: Turnover margin – 71st/Fewest penalties – 12th/First downs – 45th/First downs allowed – 119th/Third down efficiency – 55th/Red zone efficiency – 9th/Red zone defense – 83rd/Time of possession – 74th.
Outgoing starters: 9.
2012 Starters (2011 stats)
Returning Offense (8)
QB: Keith Wenning (Junior, 2,786 passing yards/63.9% cmp/19 TD-11 INT).
RB: Jahwan Edwards (Sophomore, 786 rushing yards/11 TD)
WR: Jamill Smith (Junior, 422 rec. yards/3 TD)
TE: Zane Fakes (Junior, 155 rec. yards/1 TD)
O-line: LT Austin Holtz (Senior, 6-5 304/20 career starts); LG Kitt O’Brien (Senior, 6-5 319/26 career starts); C Dan Manick (Senior, 6-4 286/31 career starts); RG Jordan Hansel (Junior, 6-4 326/13 starts)
New Projected Starters (3)
WR: Willie Snead (Sophomore, 327 rec. yards/2 TD); Connor Ryan (Junior, 234 rec. yards/1 TD)
O-line: RT Cameron Lowry (Senior, 6-6 293/19 career starts)
Outlook: Third-year starting quarterback Keith Wenning calls the signals, after taking off in year one of Lembo’s spread scheme. He completed 64 percent of his passes (6th-best in the pass-happy MAC) with 19 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, after hitting 54 percent with 14 touchdowns and 14 interceptions in his true freshman campaign.
The Cardinals feature one of the top returning running backs in the MAC, sophomore Jahwan Edwards, who rushed for 11 scores and 786 yards last season. Also factoring in that backfield are Tennessee transfer Toney Williams and Barrington Scott (370 yards last season).
Wenning will have to get comfortable with a couple new favorite targets, with his top two receivers gone (Briggs Orsbon, 649 yards; Torieal Gibson, 519 yards). Two candidates are converted quarterbacks, leading returning receiver Jamill Smith (442 yards/3 TD in ’11) and Willie Snead (327 yards/2 TD in ’11).
Ball State’s o-line has experience (four returning starters – 90 combined starts), but look to improve upon ranking 100th nationally in sacks allowed.
Returning Defense (5)
D-line: DT Nathan Ollie (Junior, 42 tackles/7.5 TFL/6 sacks)
LB: WLB Tony Martin (Senior, 73 tackles/2.5 TFL); MLB Travis Freeman (Senior, 134 tackles/4.5 TFL/4 sacks)
DB: CB Jeffery Garrett (Junior, 66 tackles/6 PBUs); CB Jason Pinkston (Junior, 32 tackles/3 PBUs/1 INT)
New Projected Starters (6)
D-line: DE Jon Newsome (Junior, Ohio State transfer); NT Brandon Newman (Senior, Notre Dame transfer); DE Nick Miles, 16 tackles/1 TFL)
LB: SLB Kenneth Lee (Senior, St. Joesph transfer)
DB: SS Chris Pauling (Freshman); FS Brian Jones (Sophomore, 33 tackles)
Outlook: If you saw the defensive numbers above, yeah – the Cardinals have some things to work on (119th out of 120 in total defense).
Linebacker is a position of strength with leading returning tackler Travis Freeman in the middle (134 tackles, 9th nationally) and fellow senior Tony Martin on the edge, but they did take a hit when rising star Aaron Morris (115 tackles/8 TFL as a sophomore) was suspended for the season with academic issues.
On the d-line, Ball State replaces three of four – defensive tackle Nathan Ollie leading the group (4.5 sacks, T-12 in MAC; 7.5 TFL).
The secondary is anchored by two upperclassmen corners, Jeffery Garrett and Jason Pinkston. Garrett racked up 66 tackles with six pass breakups last season. The safeties could be a concern though, both likely manned by underclassmen.
Projected Kicker Starters (2)
PK: Steven Schott (Senior, 15-of-20/7-of-12 from 30+/Long of 44)
P: Scott Kovanda (Senior, 43.5 yards per punt/22 inside the 20)
Outlook: A pair of solid seniors kick for the Cardinals, with punter Scott Kovanda holding a 39.1 net punt average and placekicker Steven Schott, who made 75 percent of attempts and 5-of-6 down the stretch last season with a long of 44 yards.
Notable Backups (2011 stats)
RB: Barrington Scott (Junior, 370 rushing yards/1 TD); Toney Williams (Junior, Tennessee transfer)
Trends: Ball State is 3-18 in true road openers, according to Phil Steele, and lost 37-7 to South Florida last year under Lembo in that scenario. Over the last five years, the Cardinals are 1-7 against BCS teams, with the lone win at Indiana (42-20 in 2008, when they went 12-2 under now Michigan coach Brady Hoke). Under Dabo Swinney, Clemson is 3-1 against non-BCS FBS schools, blowing out Sun Belt opponents Middle Tennessee, North Texas and Troy (38-14 average final) and dropping a game against eventual BCS bowl participant TCU, 14-10 in 2009.
2011 Ball State Schedule
Sept. 3 INDIANA – W 27-20
Sept. 10 at South Florida – L 37-7
Sept. 17 BUFFALO – W 28-25
Sept. 24 ARMY – W 48-21
Oct. 1 at Oklahoma – L 62-6
Oct. 8 TEMPLE – L 42-0
Oct. 15 at Ohio – W 23-20
Oct. 22 CENTRAL MICHIGAN - W 31-27
Oct. 29 at Western Michigan – L 45-35
Nov. 5 at Eastern Michigan – W 33-31
Nov. 15 at Northern Illinois – L 41-38
Nov. 25 TOLEDO – L 45-28