Let’s talk about Ball State. Sure, they are 2-0, have a pretty high number of passing yards, and are favored (by 3.5) at our house, but I still don’t believe the hype. Whooping up on Illinois State and Army don’t impress me much /Shania Twain voice.
Army had a terrible defense last year and that has continued into this year. Illinois State is FCS which, first week FCS v FBS results be damned, is still a weaker division. Ball State’s first two games were the equivalent of North Texas taking on Idaho two weeks in a row.
In McCarney’s era, NT has played much better at Apogee than away, going 8-4 and scoring about 3 points more per game than away. We are coming off a very close loss to the MAC’s projected champion at their house. In that one we were just one drive away from stealing it after we shot ourselves in the foot by gifting two TDs in the first half.
Forgive me if I’m not quaking in my green boots over here, guys.
The real story will be on offense, where we will see which Derek will show up. The one from the Idaho game and the second half of the Ohio game? Or the Derek from the first half of last game? The good news is that he isn’t vacillating wildly between great and terrible anymore. He showed some crispness in the second half comeback. I believe in Derek Thompson.
That doesn’t mean I am not intrigued by The Freshman Sensation, Dajon Williams. I’m betting he’ll get a series or two now that the Mean Green are back at home. I’m looking forward to seeing some of what has Danny Mac so excited about him.
That said, how do we win this game? Well, the offensive line will create bigger holes for Brandin Byrd, Antoinne Jimmerson and Reggie Pegram. They have had little daylight, contributing to the paltry 3.5 ypc. The bigger concern is the poor Success Rate. We stand at 41% according to the FO guys. That means we only successful at getting the necessary yardage on first down (50% of necessary yardage), second down (70% of the necessary yardage) and of course on thirds and fourths (100%) at a rate of 41%. If you have watched the games you’ve no-doubt noticed the second and third and longs we’ve faced, especially against Ohio. The 3rd down conversion rate last game was 28% (4 of 14).
I don’t care much which way we get the necessary yardage, but it seems Danny Mac wants to get it via the run game. Thus far it has had the effect of suffocating our offense. This has to get more successful or we need to vary the approach to getting first down yardage.
With the passing yards per play at 9+, it seems pretty obvious that there are opportunities available for the Derek and Company. Let that thing fly, ya’ll. For more on that reasoning read this excellent smartfootball post.. The run game will improve when we get the defense to respect the pass. We all know this and the message boards are saying the same thing.