Thursday, September 18, 2008

Q&A with Ball State blog "Over the Pylon."

Earlier this week, I exchanged some questions about this week's game with Over the Pylon, a well-written blog that mostly covers Ball State but also Kentucky and college football at large. OTP's answers to my questions are below, and my answers to his questions are here. My questions are in crimson, OTP's answers are in red.
1. Since you asked me about Lynch, I'll ask you the same: why did he fail at Ball State? Was it merely his coaching ability, or did other issues such as facilities and recruiting restrictions play a role?
As a Kentucky fan, sorry to the IU faithful about that, I compare Lynch to Tubby Smith. Both fantastic men. Great advocates for the school. Great workers and stewards for the community and the school. But lousy coaches, and they both played their sons way more than they should have. I think some fans look at Lynch, compare him to Hoke, and walk away thinking he isn't a good coach. I don't think that's a fair comparison. Hoke and Lynch for all purposes coached at two very different schools, though both had the name "Ball State".It was Lynch's first stop as a head coach. He had no major experience, save for jobs at Butler as a head coach and assistant jobs at Ball State and Indiana. He took over for Paul Schudel, who guided BSU to its first ever 1A Bowl game and two MAC titles. Lynch's first two seasons there were his most successful (hello Tubby) and after a Las Vegas Bowl appearance in 1996, the bottom fell out as his recruits began to fill into the roster. Of course, that isn't entirely his fault, as at the time, there was no decent stadium, no decent football facilities, no MAC TV coverage, etc. So I'm sure it was tough. Hoke has all of that, and he is reaping the benefits with good recruiting classes and more talent, which results in more wins on the field.The bottom line is that each year in Muncie, Lynch and the team got a bit worse. When the firing appeared inevitable in 2002, Lynch rallied the troops behind emotion and his farewell tour and salvaged a 6-6 season. Lynch excels at rallying the troops around emotional causes and issues, which worked well for IU last year. Lynch will ultimately get a bit worse and worse. The talent level at IU may make that descent not as quick or as dramatic, but it will happen sooner rather than later.

2. Tell me about Sean Baker. He came out of nowhere to have one of the most dominant games in recent memory, with three interceptions and a fumble return for a TD. Did you expect great things out of this guy so soon?
Sean Baker is someone that most of us who follow the program thought Canfield had the potential to be a good athlete all over the field. He played both ways in high school, and comes from Canfield, OH. Hoke has shown tremendous recruiting prowess in the Buckeye State, but to say anyone saw Baker contributing this much this soon would be a stretch. Keep in mind, he doesn't even start.

3. No points for creativity. Nate Davis's strengths are well known. Does he have any weaknesses? What sort of teams have caused him the most trouble?
Nate is probably the best player to walk through Ball State's football program (apologies to Jason Whitlock). His strenghts are well known to people not close to the program, but to those of us who follow the Cards, his weaknesses are just as obvious. Nate, though exceptionally accurate, makes some questionable decisions at times. He's Farve-ian in his ability to believe that he can squeeze a pass into a one foot square within triple coverage. He's getting better, but there have been flashes this season, the Navy game for example, where Nate throws to a bracketed receiver and results in an INT. Against Navy and Northeastern... not so much of a big deal. Against Indiana... big deal.

4. I certainly don't mean to rub any salt in the wounds, but Ball State has had some close calls, particularly in recent years, against teams from BCS conferences. Which loss bothers you the most, and why?
Personally, I would say the Michigan game. Sure, they were down and not the Michigan team of year's past, but that one stung. More so by the fact that I have numerous friends who are Michigan fans, I grew up with Indiana fans who hated Michigan, etc. So that one left sort of a funky taste, more so because of who it was against. To be honest, the games in recent years like Michigan, Nebraska, Boston College, Illinois, Indiana in 06 all leave a bitter taste. Because the lion's share of close games we've lost against major teams are games where the win was there for the taking, and Ball State beat themselves. It's like watching a Bill Curry Kentucky team. Only with less talent. And that makes me a not so happy camper.

5. As you consider this matchup, which Hoosiers keep you awake at night?
Well, the easy answer is Kellen Lewis. But to be truthful, the offenses themselves are equally impressive and potent, but I do think the team with the more successful running back will ultimately win this game. As MiQuale Lewis or Marcus Thigpen go, so go their teams.Realistically though, this is a matchup that will come down to the play of the lines, and in a broader perspective, which defense steps up their play. Each team, I believe, has significant potential to be torched defensively, and both teams have an offense capable of doing the torching. So defensively, Nick Polk worries me. He's a safety with wide reciever speed, who should be able to keep up with Darius Hill and Dante Love.How we gameplan to attack Chris Adkins, a freshman at corner, will also be a heavy factor in winning this game. His height concerns me, but his lack of experience makes me salavate. Additionally, DEs Jammie Kirlew and Greg Middleton will mean the difference for BSU's offensive explosiveness. If they can get pressure on Davis, which no team has so far, it could be a long day for the Cardinals. If Davis has the time to sit back, set up, and pick his spots, then it's going to be a long day for the Hoosiers.
Thanks, Alan. Again, my answers can be found here.


Alan said...

Regardless of what team wins, here's to a great game for the state and our fans on Saturday. Injury-free, exciting, FOOTBAW!!

Anonymous said...

Agreed. I'm pretty pumped for the game. Oh, and Go Hoosiers!