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The Countdown

A bottom-to-top assessment of the F.B.S. landscape heading into the 2012 season.

Likes and Dislikes

Five and Five: Ball State

What are five things I like about Ball State in 2010? What about five things I don’t? This list has all the answers.

Likes

1. The return of running back MiQuale Lewis. He was granted a sixth year of eligibility, which is huge news for this offense.

2. The linebacker combination of Davyd Jones and Travis Freeman. Jones was his typically stellar self in 2009, while Freeman, then a true freshman, was a very pleasant surprise.

3. Junior safety Sean Baker. He’s a ball-hawk, as shown by his 10 interceptions over his first two seasons.

4. There is a potential for a hot start. Ball State opens the year with Liberty and Southeast Missouri State, which should allow it to match last season’s win total before we reach mid-September.

5. Very unproven in 2009, the offensive line should be better with the return of five starters. The best of the bunch is left guard Michael Switzer, a 39-game starter over his first three years on campus.

Dislikes

1. Briggs Orsbon is a proven target, but the Cardinals are not in great shape at receiver. This group could get a huge boost from tight end Madaris Grant, whose petition for a sixth year — like Lewis — is still pending.

2. A somewhat unsettled quarterback position. Kelly Page, a sophomore, returns after starting seven games last season. But he’ll be tested by a pair of freshmen, including a highly-touted recruit arriving in the fall.

3. The loss of Brandon Crawford at defensive end. Do the Cardinals have any player on the roster capable of coming close to matching his lost production?

4. The defensive line as a whole. The group was not terrible in 2009, but still ranks in the bottom half of the MAC.

5. Stan Parrish. Very good college assistant, not a great college head coach. At worst, he has not proven an ability to put a winning product on the field.

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