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Blue Ribbon Analysis
Head Coach: Pete Lembo (Georgetown, '92)
2011 Overall/Conference Record: 6-6 (4-4 MAC)
Offense Starters Returning/Lost: 8/3
Defense Starters Returning/Lost: 5/6
Lembo inherited a mess at Ball State. The school won just six game the two years before he arrived, a number he reached in his first season. Lembo is ahead of schedule, but he realizes better than anyone that it's a process. The quick fix won't work at Ball State, just like it doesn't work at any other FBS school.
On offense, Ball State has the talent to compete for a bowl bid. There is deptth and talent at running back. The offensive line is experienced, and Keith Wenning is developing into one of the top quarterbacks in the MAC. The biggest question is at receiver, a key position in Ball State's winde-open offense. Find a playmaker or two there and the Cardinals will be able to score points in bunches.
The defense remains the bigger question. Key starters are gone from a year ago, and Ball State might be looking to newcomers to fill some of the gaps. The defense gave up at least 30 points seven times in 2011. To move up in the MAC, that number needs to be reduced.
A year after being snubbed by the bowls, the Cardinals might want to try to win seven games or more to lock up a postseason berth. The opener against Eastern Michigan will tell a lot about Ball State's changes. So will a two-game midseason stretch at home against West favorites Northern Illinois and Western Michigan. And in November, the Cardinals have back-to-back midweek games against Toledo & Ohio.
2012 Ball State Cardinals Schedule
Aug. 30 - Eastern Michigan
Sept. 8 - @Clemson
Sept. 15 - @Indiana
Sept. 22 - USF
Sept. 29 - @Kent State
Oct. 6 - Northern Illinois
Oct. 13 - Western Michigan
Oct. 20 - @Central Michigan
Oct. 27 - @Army
Nov. 6 - @Toledo
Nov. 14 - Ohio
Nov. 23 - @Miami