By Doug Griffiths
Each week during the IU football season, Inside Indiana provides you with a scouting report on the Hoosiers’ upcoming opponent through the eyes of its radio play-by-play announcer.
This week Inside Indiana spoke with Joel Godett the “Voice of the Cardinals.”
Following are Godett’s thoughts on Ball State, who is coming off a 52-27 loss at 12th-ranked Clemson Sept. 8, and his thoughts on its game Saturday in Bloomington.
Inside Indiana: The Cardinals come into this weekend’s game with a .500 record following the loss at Clemson. What are your thoughts on their team and what you’ve seen to date from them?
Godett: “Clemson was tough in a lot of respects, but we now know this is a Ball State team that can really run the football.
“Kevin Wilson said you saw some of (the Cardinals’) running backs running away from Clemson’s defense and Clemson’s defense was one of the fastest defenses the IU coaches said they’ve seen on film. They’re really impressed with the running backs and we’re really impressed with the running backs.
“Jahwan Edwards has been outstanding. Even in the second game, he didn’t have the cumulative totals, but his yards per carry was at five.
“Horactio Banks is kind of a jitterbug. He’s really quick and runs away from guys and has patience.
“That’s really the biggest thing about running game, they’re not just undisciplined runners who have had success and found holes, they’re disciplined. They understand the offense. They understand how to wait for the blocks. They let plays develop and then will hit their spots. It’s interesting to watch them go to work and really the surgical way they’re able to break through a defensive front.”
Inside Indiana: Some of the preseason publications predicted a middle of the pack finish for Ball State in its division. Is this team better than that and is it better than the 6-6 mark it had a year ago?
Godett: “For sure. A lot of people have said they could be a better team this year with a worse record with the way the schedule plays out, but I don’t buy that.
“Their harder games in the MAC are at home. They have Ohio and Northern Illinois at home. They beat Ohio on the road last year and they probably should have beaten Northern Illinois on the road. Now you have those two teams at home so that should play in your favor.
“I just think they’re a better team. I truly think they’re one of the upper echelon teams in this league. They have one of the better running games. The offensive line is ridiculously talented, communicates well, knows their plan and knows how to execute it.
“The defense has gotten better from last year, but it still has some strides to make. As much as the defense was a maligned unit last year, you have seen some growth and strides.
“When you look at this team and see how they’ve played the first two weeks, I don’t want to say you would be foolish to think they can’t compete in the MAC, but I certainly think they’ve made their case.”
Inside Indiana: Going on what you’ve said, the running attack seems to be the overwhelming strength of the Cardinals. Is there another area where they excel and would the defense be the weakness, considering they lost a pair of first-team all-conference players from a year ago?
Godett: “Other than the running game, the strength would be the passing game. This team came into the season as a passing team. They were going to throw it with (quarterback) Keith Wenning on first, second, third, fourth and even if there was a fifth down. He’s that good of a quarterback. That gets lost with the way the running backs have performed early on.
“If they can run, the way they’ve been running, they’re going to set Keith up to have some really good success when they get to the MAC schedule and even over the next two weeks against some BCS opponents (when they face IU and South Florida).
“Wenning is still one of the best quarterbacks in this league and a guy who has been starting for two years already.
“If you’re going to put him in situations to pass on his own terms when the running game sets him up nicely … they call it a fully dimensional offense and I think it’s really going to be that as the season develops.
“The weakness is still the defense until it proves otherwise. They did give up 52 points to Clemson. They’re better, but they still do have strides to make. Until you prove otherwise, people are going to have their question marks there, but I think by the end of the season, that will be a resolved issue.”
Inside Indiana: Going into the season, the Cardinals were known as a no huddle, spread offense that liked to throw it a lot. Have they changed their philosophy since they’ve been so good at running the football and what kind of team will Indiana fans see on Saturday night?
Godett: “They haven’t changed their philosophy. It’s just playing to their strengths. Right now they’re strong at the running back spot there’s no doubt about that and they’re going to play to that, but at the same time they’re not going to get away from who they are. The goal is still to get Keith Wenning in situations where he can throw the ball successfully.”
Inside Indiana: What are the Cardinals concerned about when looking at IU?
Godett: “Containing Cam Coffman I guess. They don’t expect a whole lot to change philosophically for Indiana.
“Obviously it’s different personnel, but at the same time they have respect for what they’ve seen on film from Cam Coffman.
“They don’t expect Indiana to change too much as far as their offensive game plan and how they’re going to use him. Obviously he’s not the same let-em-loose running threat (as Tre Roberson), but there’s still a concern with zone-read option where the guy could get himself seven or eight yards rushing.”
Inside Indiana: What key matchup will you be watching on Saturday?
Godett: “(IU’s) offensive line. With (left tackle) Jason Spriggs, a freshman, I would imagine you’ll see (Ball State defensive end) Jonathan Newsome on him. I’m curious to see what Newsome will do. He’s kind of a wildcard. It’s his first game in two years and first game in a new program. He’s an athletic freak. I’m excited to see whether or not Spriggs can block him or whether or not he can get to the quarterback.”
Inside Indiana: Does Ball State like its chances against the Hoosiers?
Godett: “I think they probably like their chances. At the end of the day, it’s still a MAC school playing a Big Ten school.
“I’m sure Indiana has had this game circled (since losing last season).”
Inside Indiana: What kind of game do you think we’ll see between these two teams on Saturday?
Godett: “I would suspect Ball State is going to try and run the football. If they do it successfully, they’ll probably have a good day on offense. If they don’t, it’s going to be interesting because that will mean they’ll have to throw the football, which is not a bad thing. But anytime your offense is one dimensional, it’s not as easy.
“The ability to run the football and set up the offense is going to be critical. If they’re able to run the football on IU, I would expect they’ll be able to put up some points.”
Inside Indiana: Do you think it has the makings of being a shootout?
Godett: “I think it could be interesting. If it is a shootout, it’s not good for Ball State. If it’s not a shootout, I think it would probably favor the Cards.
“If Ball State can begin to stop people more effectively like they did for the first three quarters of the Eastern Michigan game and in the second half of the Clemson game, I think they’ll have a really good season. If they run into trouble like when Clemson marched the ball right down the field the first couple possessions, it could be a closer game at the end.”