Ball State's football team, under the direction of third-year head coach Pete Lembo, wrapped up its 2013 spring practice season with the annual Cardinal and White Spring Game at Scheumann Stadium.
Using a specialized scoring system which allowed points for drive stops, takeaways, first downs, scoring plays and other specific plays, the Red team defeated the White team by a 55-28 margin.
"We are starting to build pretty good depth on the defensive line," Lembo says. "We are going to be real young at linebacker, but Ben Ingle had a solid spring. Zack Ryan, who is a preferred walk-on and Connor Ryan’s younger brother, had an interception and I noticed some other plays that he made. I am really happy with our front four. I feel like those guys generated a better pass rush and they were pretty stout against the run. Certainly they are going up against a young offensive line compared to last year's group which was about as veteran as anybody in the country. I feel like our front four had a solid spring."
The Cardinals return 39 letterwinners from a 2012 team that posted a 9-4 overall record and ended its season at the Beef 'O' Brady's St. Petersburg Bowl. Ball State returns 13 starters, including seven on offense and six on defense.
Leading the list of returnees for the Cardinals is senior quarterback Keith Wenning, who was a 2012 All-Mid-American Conference Second-Team selection last season. Wenning completed 301-of-460 passes for 3,095 yards with 24 touchdowns in 2012.
“Keith has really broken out of his comfort zone first and foremost," Lembo says. "What I mean by that is he has gotten a lot more vocal in the locker room. He has become a lot more vocal even with me. He will come into my office now and tell me what is on his mind. We are trying to get to the point where he will give Rich Skrosky some feedback on what he likes best and what he doesn’t like as much. Keith is one of those guys that is such a team player he is going to go with whatever we want to call. I think he is progressing in terms of his leadership."
Jahwan Edwards returns at running back after rushing for 1,410 yards a year ago, while Ball State also returns tight end Zane Fakes and its top four receivers in Willie Snead, Jamill Smith, Connor Ryan and KeVonn Mabon.
Lembo, who owns a 94-46 head coaching record in 12 seasons, has guided the Cardinals to a 15-10 mark in his two years at Ball State. Lembo has led Ball State to back-to-back bowl eligible seasons.
"Next week is a huge week for us in terms of year-end evaluation," Lembo says. "Every player will meet with me, meet with the strength coach and meet with their position coaches to see where they are in terms of summer conditioning and coming back for preseason practice in August."
Ball State opens the 2013 season with an Aug. 29, game vs. Illinois State at Scheumann Stadium, and will host Army Sept. 7, in its second game of the year.