FORT WAYNE – Denton, Texas, stayed with the Cardinals all of 24 hours, if that. So much for the staying power of ghosts these days for the Ball State football program.
It’s a new week, head coach Pete Lembo said after taking one last decidedly unspooked look at North Texas 34, Ball State 27.
It was the kind of loss that can haunt you if you let it, but Lembo clearly wasn’t going to. And so there was no hand-wringing about a game the Cardinals led 27-3 before North Texas scored 31 straight points to take it off their plate. There was only the acknowledgment of what led to all that – four turnovers, not enough depth on defense and a rash of injuries the first three weeks that has depleted that depth – and then it was time to move on.
To Eastern Michigan. To the Mid-American Conference opener. To a team Ball State has beaten seven times in the last eight meetings – but also a team that’s given them everything they wanted in 37-26 and 33-31 wins the last two seasons.
In other words, there’s no time to be haunted by what might have been.
These are two teams that know each other pretty well and have been in two battles here the last two years, Lembo said. We’ve played two very close games against them. Both went our way. I’m sure they think they’ve got an ax to grind with us.
One man in particular might.
Staring back at the Cardinals from the other sideline Saturday in Ypsilanti will be Stan Parrish, the Eagles’ new offensive coordinator and Lembo’s predecessor at Ball State.
I really respect the job that he’s doing, and he’s got an awesome reputation as an offensive coordinator, Lembo said.
The Eagles opened with a 34-24 victory over Howard, then lost 45-7 to Penn State and 28-10 to Rutgers. In those three games, they have turned the ball over just twice in 211 snaps, dominated time of possession by an average of eight-plus minutes and recorded 10 sacks out of three- and four-man fronts.
Against that, Ball State sends an offense that’s churning out 39.3 points and 452 yards per game behind a rebuilding offensive line that lost another piece when Jalen Schlachter went down with an ankle injury that will likely keep him out.
Not that, again, there’s any time to dwell on that.
Got to keep challenging our backups to go in and get the job done, Lembo said.