It’s been a rough start to the coaching career of P.J. Fleck as he looks to avoid falling to 0-8 on Saturday as the Broncos welcome the Ball State Cardinals to Waldo Stadium. Ball State enters the game 6-1, 3-0 in Mid-American Conference play after defeating Kent State last weekend 27-24. This is the 39th meeting between the MAC West rivals with the Broncos holding a 20-18 advantage. Ball State won 30-24 last year in overtime despite Andrew Haldeman drilling a 52-yard field goal as time expired to force extra time. The Broncos will be wearing a pink Ghost Bronco logo on its helmets in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month along with pink uniform accents as well. Kick-off is set for 2pm.
1. Limit Turnovers – It’s comes as no surprise that the 0-7 Broncos rank last in the MAC in turnover margin at minus 12. 15 of the teams 21 turnovers have come via the interception, and whoever takes center for WMU, either Tyler VanTubbergen or Zach Terrell if TVT’s shoulder still hasn’t recovered, must make better decisions when airing out the ball.
2. Contain Keith Wenning – The Cardinals senior quarterback leads the MAC in passing yards per game at an outstanding 328 yards per. WMU does lead the MAC in pass defense but that has more to do with the lack of success the defense has had stopping the run. Willie Snead, last week’s MAC Offensive Player of the Week, is an excellent receiver who must be shut down to force the Cardinals into a more run happy offense. The Broncos are yet to allow an opponent over 250 yards passing in a game this season.
3. Keep Penalties to a Minimum – Ball State doesn’t commit many penalties, while drawing the second most in the MAC. It’ll be an uphill battle for the Broncos on Saturday and eliminating costly penalties will go a long way in the upset attempt.
4. Defend on Special Teams – The Cardinals are averaging just under 23 yards per kick-off return and with their explosive offense, a short field is something the Broncos just can’t allow.
5. Keep the Crowd Involved – Against Buffalo nearly half of the fans in attendance were gone by the start of the second half and the score was only 6-0. It’s extremely hard to keep a team motivated in a half empty stadium and the only way to keep the fans in the stands is to give them a reason to. Keep the game close, and keep the fans at Waldo.
Prediction: Ball State 38 WMU 10