It’s pretty clear that senior running back Jahwan Edwards will have to carry the Ball State offense, at least early in the season in the wake of the Cardinals losing six starters, including Keith Wenning, the quarterback taken by the Baltimore Ravens in the sixth round of this year’s NFL draft.
Edwards wanted all the quarterbacks – Ozzie Mann, Kyle Kamman, Jack Milas and Concordia graduate David Morrison – to know that he’s aware of the challenges the Cardinals will face this season and that he can guide them through it.
So he sat in on the quarterback meetings this summer just to drive home the point.
This summer, I have watched film with the quarterbacks, just to build our chemistry and just to let them know I’ve got their backs, like with the protections. I want them to be comfortable in the pocket, Edwards said. They may get sacked, but I want them to know, just go to the next play and lose that last play, just go to the next play.
Mann is the quarterback with the most experience – he completed 2 of 9 passes for 29 yards and an interception last year – and is the likely starter for the Cardinals after a 10-3 season that ended with a loss to Arkansas State in the GoDaddy Bowl.
With a 7-1 league record, the Cardinals were one game back of Northern Illinois in the Western Division of the Mid-American Conference.
Edwards had 1,110 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns for the Cardinals. He’s 697 yards short of eclipsing the Ball State career rushing record of 4,002, held by former Snider standout Marcus Merriweather, and Edwards already holds the program record with 39 rushing touchdowns.
While he’s not the only running back opponents must be wary of, Edwards led the Cardinals to an average of 38.5 points per game last season, 16th best in the nation and 13.8 more than their opponents.
The Cardinals averaged 152.9 rushing yards per game, 80th in the country, but that should elevate with the departure of Wenning, who threw for 4,148 yards, 35 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
Among the stable of running backs, the Cardinals also have 5-foot-8, 200-pound Horactio Banks (595 yards, 7 TDs last year); 5-9, 180-pound sophomore Teddy Williamson (224 yards, 1 TD); and 5-8, 175-pound freshman Darian Green.
They all complement each other well, said Edwards, 5-10, 219 pounds.
Horatio is my biggest critic, Edwards said. Even though he’s not the starter, he could start at any time. Me and him take great pride in teaching each other things.
The Cardinals open the season Aug. 30 against Colgate in Muncie, then travel to Iowa for a game Sept. 6. Against a Big Ten team, Edwards will probably be particularly leaned on, and he’ll have to use his powerful style against the superior size.
The nice thing about the Ball State running backs, according to Edwards, is that they have different types of backs when it comes to speed, power and agility.
The running back is not always the fastest. But he does have to be able to change speed, he said. He has to be able to be patient and then hit the hole or slow down and then be able to hit it. Horactio, everybody, we’ve got different mixtures. He may get through cleaner than all my runs – he has more explosive plays than me – but I have more yards than him.
We definitely all have different running styles that make us successful.