You remember Over the Pylon, the...intense Ball State blog. The site's proprietor, Alan, has been kind enough to answer a few questions for me, and I'll be doing the same for him.
1. The Pete Lembo era began in promising fashion last season with a 6-6 record. I expected the prognosticators to predict big improvement this season, especially with Keith Wenning and Jahwan Edwards returning, but most of what I have seen predicts a middle of the pack finish for Ball State. Do you agree or disagree with these predictions? What do you think is behind those predictions.
OTP: I remember in 2008 when BSU was predicted to finish 4th in the MAC West and ended up in the top 12 of the BCS and undefeated by season's end. Unfortunately, the MAC is one of the conferences that get so little exposure that even the special teams get sort of swept under the rug. Pete has done a fantastic job not only on the field but off it as well and in some respects that is the most important facet of his job. I disagree with the predictions and as I've said all along, this team and the 2008 version is remarkably similar. A junior QB with a big arm, an excellent running game, and a senior dominated offensive line give me a good feeling.
2. Have any freshmen or other newcomers made an impact yet? If so, who and how?
OTP: Horactio Banks on the offensive side of the ball provides a nice breather for Juhwan Edwards. He demonstrated his skill when he totally outran everyone from Clemson. If IU has ACC speed then he won't be a factor, but there's a reason why BSU is ranked 8th nationally in rushing offense after two games. And those two games were against a conference foe and a top 15 school, not an FCS tomato can and a payday game. They were legit. Though not a freshman, Jonathan Newsome returns this week for BSU. He sat out the last two games for rules violations and off the field issues, so his play may very well make a difference.
3. We know about Wenning and Edwards. Tell us about a couple of your hidden gems on offense and defense.
OTP: As I mentioned above, Banks and Newsome may be the most important on the field for this particular contest. Our entire defense was viewed as suspect by many fans at the start of the season, so the defense of Jay Pinkston and Nathan Ollie may be significant. Offensively, there's Banks but also Jamill Smith. Smith is remarkably fast and wry, so he may have a field day.
4. Finally, what's your prediction? Will the Cards continue their winning streak over IU?
OTP: I think it ultimately depends on the Cards. With a B+ effort, I think it's a 13-17 point game. With a C effort and an A effort from IU, it's a 3-7 point coinflip. Having said all that, I'll go with a 34-21 Ball State win. I think anything closer than 10-14 points should be viewed as a moral victory for the Hoosiers.