Thursday, October 02, 2008

Cardinal Preview: Toledo


Ball State vs. Toledo
Location: Glass Bowl, Toledo, OH
Game Time: 7:00pm
Television: Ball State Sports All Access

It's Thursday, which brings with it previews galore of this weekend's action. This week's victim? The Toledo Rockets. Toledo's an interesting study, as they bring with them a great offense, but absolutely no defense. They come to the game at 1-3, but their signature game so far was a loss... an overtime thriller against Fresno State.

The Cardinals have simply marched through their season at 5-0. It's been an emotional ride for fans, students, and players, and this week will reveal a lot about the character of this team. How can they handle the media attention they are getting? Can the defense step up and make stops against a high-powered attack? How will they play after two extremely emotional games?

The Basics:
Ball State University Cardinals:
Location: Muncie, IN
Record: 5-0 (2-0 MAC)
Last Week: W vs. Kent State 41-20

Toledo Rockets:
Location: Toledo, OH
Record: 1-3 (1-0 MAC)
Last Week: L vs. Florida International 35-16

Offense: The Toledo offense is paced by Aaron Opelt. A good quarterback, but has struggled with injuries throughout his time at Toledo. This season, Opelt has Steven Williams and Nick Moore as his top targets. Both are good options at wideout. DaJuane Collins paces the Rockets' ground attack, and has been impressive this season, though did not play last week against FIU because of an ankle injury. They'll turn to freshman Morgan Williams to carry the load in case Collins can't go against BSU.

For the Cardinals, it's more of the same. High-power passing, tough running attack, stellar offensive line play. What the Cardinals must look to correct is the drops. So far it hasn't cost them games, but it has cost them points, and this must be corrected for this perfect season to continue.
Advantage: Closer than I would like, but BSU has the nod.

Defense: Defense for Toledo is a bit of a problem. They defend neither the pass nor the rush exceptionally well and have given up 131 points in three losses. This defense is in serious trouble when the Nate Show rolls into the Glass Bowl. Should the Rockets find a way to defend against the pass, they will then have to rely on their defense shutting down Ball State and MiQuale Lewis on the ground. Not an easy task for a unit that was last in 2007 in the MAC for rushing defense.

For Ball State, it just has to be more of the same. The Cardinals have utlized a bend but don't break approach and capitalizing on turnovers and mistakes of the opposing offense. The fact that Collins may not be in the starting lineup will be a huge advantage for BSU.
Advantage: Neither defense is exceptional, but Ball State has shown the ability to make stops and shut opposing offenses down when needed. Toledo hasn't demonstrated that at all.

Coaching: Two years ago and this category would have been a no-brainer for Toledo. But the simple fact is that Tom Amstutz is not quite the revered MAC head man that he used to be. Back-to-back 5-win seasons and a decreased success rate has raised questions about his quality and ability.
Advantage: Push. Hoke is on the rise, Amstutz on the decline. We'll call it even.

Intangibles: Injuries abound for both teams, and Toledo will be looking for respect and notoriety that comes with a signature win. The pressure is beginning to mount for Ball State, and it is a conference road game. Story lines abound....
Advantage: Push

Toledo Rockets:

From all reports I could gather Toledo doesn't have an official mascot, though there is scuttlebutt of a certain Rocky the Rocket. However, they do have an actual rocket pointed at the football stadium of Bowling Green. That's hardcore. Insane. But hardcore.

**Incorrect Alan. As a former resident of the Toledo, OH area, I am aware of 'Rocky' the Rocket and the fame that accompanies whoever should be so lucky. University of Toledo students...please follow this link for more information regarding tryouts. It might be for the 2008 season, but you're welcome for the head start on the 4-5 situational improv/dance scenarios. Good luck. ~RV

Ball State

Charlie Cardinal. I'm surprised he could even get his pants cinched up with his giant bird balls.
Advantage: Pointing a weapon at your rival doesn't make it good. If that were true, Miami would have the advantage every week.

Overall: This game on paper looks to be a bit of a snoozer. Another Ball State game, another win. I hope I'm right.

Ball State 44
Toledo 23

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