Ball State has a starter at quarterback returning from the 2009 season, but the team has not named a starter at the position going into this summer.
Coach Stan Parrish described the play of sophomore Kelly Page, who started the first seven games last season, and redshirt freshman Aaron Mershman as "average" during spring practice.
Page is given the slightest edge in the race to become the starter because he has playing experience from last season, but clearly the job will be contested during fall camp.
"We have talented guys, but we're not near consistent enough with what we do," Parrish told the Muncie (Ind.) Star Press. "Real leaders make plays every night, and we're not to that point yet."
Page passed for season highs of 234 yards and 237 yards in his final two full games last season. He suffered a broken thumb on his throwing hand in the seventh game and missed the rest of the year after undergoing surgery.
He didn't miss any time this spring.
"In spots he looks great, but he's inconsistent yet," Parrish said.
Mershman spent 2009 as a true freshman adjusting to the college game, including taking snaps from under center.
"This isn't about where Kelly's at," he told The Star Press. "It's about where this team is at, and where I'm at. That's what I'm worried about. Am I better than yesterday?"
Page and Mershman will have another challenger in fall camp when true freshman Keith Wenning arrives. Wenning led Coldwater (Ohio) High School to the Ohio Division 5 state championship game last fall, but will have to prove he can make the immediate jump to the FBS level right away.NOTES, QUOTES
--Ball State has perhaps the deepest running back position in the Mid-American Conference. Senior MiQuale Lewis was granted an additional year of eligibility by the NCAA on a medical waiver, and young players Cory Sykes and Eric Williams showed flashes of dependability last season. David Brown redshirted a year ago and he was impressive during spring practice.
--Defensive ends coach Jay Hood was elevated to defensive coordinator, a position he held at Miami (Ohio) before coming to the Cardinals, during the winter. Last year's coordinator, Doug Graber, retired in February. Hood will continue the Cardinals' 4-3 alignment, with an emphasis on creating more pressure up front.
RG Kitt O'Brien -- He shared time at guard and tackle last season during his freshman year. His consistency has been good this spring, and he won a starting position.
WR Tori Gibson -- The Cardinals like him as a slot receiver because of his toughness over the middle, and he has the speed to get deep. He took advantage of a hamstring injury that slowed No. 1 WR Briggs Orsbon this spring to show his skill.
DE Kaylon Woods -- A starting position was available with the graduation of Brandon Crawford, and Woods took advantage. He's the likely starter in the fall at left end, but will have to ward off a challenge from Andrew Puthoff in fall camp.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I haven't won any games. I haven't done anything in the won-loss column to stand for. This job basically is up for grabs. Whoever leads the team and performs and leads the team to victories (will play)." -- Ball State QB Kelly Page on the battle with Aaron Mershman for the starting position.STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
2010 OUTLOOK: Ball State is intent on atoning for one of the worst years in school history last season (2-10). To be better, the Cardinals have to play with more consistency. Their passing game a year ago was horrible much of the season, forcing them to go with a wildcat running attack. The strong running game is still intact, and the passing game is expected to improve.
SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: Ball State might have the deepest RB roster in the Mid-American Conference with MiQuale Lewis, Cory Sykes, Eric Williams and David Brown. There seems to be no question the Cardinals will run the ball well, and continue to use the running wildcat formation. The question is whether the passing game can provide enough consistency to keep defenses off balance.
SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: Ball State's biggest deficiency on defense was slowing down passing attacks. The Cardinals didn't get enough pressure up front, and play at the cornerback spots was spotty much of the season. Their focus to improve started in spring practice with getting more pressure on the quarterback.
SCOUTING THE SPECIAL TEAMS: Ball State has a chance to be real good in this area. PK Ian McGarvey is a three-year veteran, P Scott Kovanda showed a live leg last year as a freshman, and the Cardinals have several players, such as Charlie Todd, Tori Gibson and Eric Williams, who should provide a spark in the return game.
--Ball State TB MiQuale Lewis earned a medical waiver for an additional year of eligibility. He missed the final nine games in 2007 with a torn ACL. TE Madaris Grant is seeking a waiver for a sixth season but has yet to hear if it has been granted.
--Second-team All-MAC DE Robert Eddins had offseason shoulder surgery. He didn't participate in contact drills during the spring, but should be full go in fall camp.
--WR Seth White was a promising newcomer last season, but his year ended in the fourth game with a shoulder injury that required surgery. His 2010 season started with a setback when he tore an ACL during a Christmas break workout in his hometown. He's expected to return when the season begins, but he likely won't be fully recovered in September.
Previous Report: 04/11/2010