FORT WAYNE – In idle moments, he thinks about rustling up some snow for Saturday. But only in idle moments.
Some things are outside even Pete Lembos influence, and Pete Lembo knows it.
We want good weather for the crowd and bad weather for (South Florida), the Ball State football coach says.
And if thats a meteorological impossibility, other things are not, like beating Indiana University. The Cardinals did it for the second year in a row and third time in five years last Saturday night, the perfect springboard for what everyone knows will be a much stiffer test Saturday afternoon in Muncie.
You turn on the film of South Florida on Sunday night, and its certainly easy to move on when you see such a big, fast, rugged outfit running around on film, Lembo said this week. This group had nine days to get ready for us, so theyre going to be fresh. And that loss to Rutgers (23-13 a week ago) is not sitting well with them right now.
Its going to be a great challenge. I dont know that Ball State has ever had an opponent of this magnitude coming into Scheumann (Stadium).
The Bulls are 2-1 coming to Muncie, and theyre led by the same guy – multipurpose quarterback B.J. Daniels – who tormented the Cardinals down in Florida last year in a 37-7 South Florida blowout.
Add a mammoth offensive line (6-5, 300-pound average across the board, NFL-prospect guys, Lembo says), a physical, athletic defense, and its not hard to understand why Lembo daydreams of September blizzards.
Then someone asks about last Saturday, and the last-second 41-39 win over IU, and he puts the daydreams down and gets back to reality.
Which is this: The Cardinals are getting better, but theyre not all the way there yet.
On the plus side, they made a pile of first downs (32) and a bigger pile of yards (440), and got big nights from Jahwan Edwards (78 yards rushing), Keith Wenning (26-of-44 passing for 222 yards and three scores) and Jamill Smith (9 catches for 63 yards), all without a turnover.
On the down side, they gave up 558 yards, two touchdowns, including a 70-yarder when the game looked to be on ice, and failed to force a turnover.
That wont do, Lembo realizes.
In general, we have to do a better job of causing turnovers, he said this week. Here we are, we dont commit any, but we didnt create any, either.
And weve been inconsistent in our pass defense. I can live with a 25-yard corner route being completed against us. What you cant live with is what should be a 25-yard corner route that turns into a 70-yard touchdown.
Same as ever with Lembo: Keep on keepin on.
Its just like so many other things when youre trying to build a program, you dont always get instant results, he said. You have to stay the course, you have to believe youre doing the right things, and you have to be consistent. And then hopefully the results will come in time.
Its all a work in progress, and Im as impatient as anyone in wanting to see some of those thing come to fruition on Saturday.
I know were doing the right things and the kids are working hard at it. We just have to stay the course.