Thursday, January 08, 2009
This is the first of a 2 part series evaluating the losses to graduation that Ball State will face before we get to the incoming players and prospects in our Cardinal Recruiting Series beginning next week. Thanks for your blood, sweat, and tears gentlemen. It's truly appreciated. The first unit up? The defense.
Name: Gonzalo Barinaga
Height: 6' 2"
Career Stats: 39 GP/ 7 GS, 26 Tkls, 6.5 TFL, 1 Sack
Replaceability: This Academic All Conference DT was not an exceptional statistical leader, but provided quality starts when needed, and spot relief as the defensive starters needed a breather.
Name: Antonio Beasley
Height: 6' 0"
Career Stats: 21 GP/0 GS, 12 Tkls
Replaceability: Beasley spent most of his time as a career backup behind Kenny Meeks. Provided spot relief but never matched his high school success of being named 2nd Team All State.
Name: Wendell Brown
Height: 6' 0"
Career Stats: 41 GP/29 GS, 209 Tkls, 18 TFL, 2 Sacks, 4 PBU, 1 INT, 2 FF
Replaceability: Brown was a defensive force and the leading tackler on the Cardinal defense following the 2006 season. But Brown was soon plagued by injury in the offseason and a subsequent arrest. Brown provided quality spot relief in the 08 campaign, but never returned to the heights of on-field success he enjoyed his first three seasons in Muncie.
Name: Trey Buice
Career Stats: 46 GP/29 GS, 176 Tkls, 11 TFL, 5 sacks, 3 INT, 13 PBU, 1 FF, 1 FR
Replaceability: Buice came into his own in his senior season, starting all games but one. A usually strong tackler, decent in coverage, and ability to stop the run made him a valuable starter for this 2008 Cardinal defense.
Name: Bryant Haines
Height: 6' 5"
Career Stats: 44 GP/ 41 GS, 343 tkls, 31.5 TFL, 8 Sacks, 7 PBU, 2 FF, 3 FR, 1 INT, 1 Blk
Replaceability: Haines was not only the leader of the defense on the field, this 4-year starter was also the face of the defense off the field. Bryant was a 2nd Team All MAC selection in 07 and a 3rd Team All MAC choice in 2008. Haines will be exceptionally difficult to replace for a linebacker unit that lost not only starters, but also many reserves.
Name: BJ Hill
Height: 5' 7"
Career Stats: 49 GP/30 GS
Defense: 154 Tkls, 11 TFL, 2 FF, 8 INT, 8 PBU, 1 Blk
Returns: 78 PR, 9.4 avg, 2 TD
Replaceability: Hill moved to the defensive secondary from running back after the 06 season and hasn't looked back. Was named All MAC Second Team in 2007 and All MAC First Team in 2008. Hill was not a lock-down corner, as his height was sometimes a detriment to his ability to defend, but his impact on special teams and his sheer overwhelming experience will be difficult to replace, especially considering the other losses at the CB position.
Name: Jermaine Houston
Height: 6' 4"
Career Stats: 4 GP/0 GS, 1 Tkl
Replaceability: Houston was a junior college transfer from Georgia Military Academy. He saw limited game time in his junior season and no game action in his 2008 campaign. The DE position at BSU is a crowded one with Brandon Crawford and Andrew Puthoff and Houston simply got lost in the shuffle.
Name: Trey Lewis
Height: 6' 0"
Career Stats: 50 GP/39 GS, 259 Tkls, 16 TFL, 1 Sack, 11 INT, 22 PBU, 4 FR, TD
Replaceability: Lewis was forced to compete for time with BJ Hill and Trey Buice at the corner slot. Lewis was a reliable defender that was tremendous in run support as well. Good soft hands led to his skills as an interceptor. There probably isn't another position on the field where the Cardinals will feel the loss of graduation more than at cornerback.
Name: Kenny Meeks
Height: 6' 2"
Career Stats: 41 GP/20 GS, 94 Tkls, 16 TFL, 10 Sacks, 5 PBU, 1 FF, 2 FR
Replaceability: If Meeks' junior year was his coming out party, his senior campaign was when he announced he was for real. Meeks was a consistent pass rusher and run stopper, as the team leader in sacks and TFL.
Name: Chris Miller
Height: 6' 2"
Career Stats: 49 GP, 231 punts, 10342 yds, 82 In20, 25 TB
Replaceability: Miller is another in the long line of successful punters to come out of Ball State University. An All-American across the board, from Playboy to the Sporting News. Miller was All MAC First Team his first three seasons on campus and All MAC Second Team his senior season. Miller's will be replaced by Scott Kovanda or through a potential pickup on the recruiting trail.
Players lost: 10
Starters lost: 5
Starter Positions Lost: 2 LB, 2 CB, P
It isn't so much that the Cardinals lost a significant amount of players, as losing only 4 starters, not counting Chris Miller, on the defensive side of the football isn't tremendously devastating. However, the fact that the losses wrecked half of the starting linebackers and both starting corners is troubling. Additionally, the number one corner off the bench, or the first DB to fill in during nickel or dime packages, is also graduating in Trey Lewis. The loss of Miller at punter will also be felt in the battle for field position next fall.
The Cardinals' defense was a unit this season that relied on senior leadership and the ability to make a big play when needed. The remaining talent on the depth chart must step up and build on a solid foundation. Safeties Sean Baker and Alex Knipp will have to help compensate for unproven and untested corners in the passing game. On the recruiting trail, the Cardinals have received verbal commitments from 6 defensive players.