CB Jesse Avant

2002 Statistics

Coach: Brad Hoke
1st year
2002 Record: 6-6
at Missouri LOST 6-41
at Clemson LOST 7-30
at Connecticut WON 24-21 (OT)
at Toledo LOST 17-37
at Bowling Green LOST 20-38
at Central Michigan WON 38-21
at Marshall LOST 14-38

2002 Final Rankings
AP-UR, Coaches-UR, BCS-UR

2003 Outlook

The major issue for this team is establishing continuity on offense. The key to the offense will start with whoever gets the nod as signal caller, not to mention the ability to find a reliable substitute for Merriweather. If a QB can clearly emerge right off, the offense has the capability to really spread itself out, especially their passing game, which is where any experience lies. Prior to coming to Muncie, first-year head coach Brady Hoke had spent his entire collegiate coaching career working with some of the top defenses in the nation, including Oregon State, and most recently Michigan. Now, his task will be to turn around Ball State's inconsistent and inexperienced offense of years past.

Irrespective of who the quarterback is on opening night, he has to help break in new running backs, as well as get a feel for his newly revamped line. While the experience edge may go to Hill, he is clearly in the mold of NFL stars/leadfoots Drew Bledsoe and Chad Pennington, as he has been sacked a whopping 41 times in the last two seasons. Look for Roesch to get the nod to start the season, but if he gets into trouble, the coaching staff should easily give the helm to Hill.

The non-conference agenda could prove to be difficult, as Ball State faces Missouri at home, as well as tough road contests at Big East powers Pittsburgh and Boston College. Some will say that they're just playing these two to get sweet, six-figure cash payouts and in turn, they'll get creamed (maybe the AD will say it as well). On the conference side of things, BSU averts having to play perennial power Marshall. They do get to play two of the better teams at home, Toledo and Bowling Green.

So the cards are out on the table. If it can keep its head above water and gain some confidence before the MAC schedule kicks off, the Cardinals have a shot to break even and conceivably get to the MAC title game and a shot at a bowl berth. But if not, then Hoke will wish he had stayed in Ann Arbor a few more years and waited for a better job at a better school. This team will surprise, unfortunately that will include losing a few close ones to lesser opponents as well as beating a contender or two, too.

Projected 2003 record: 3-9
QB Andy Roesch
QB - 2 DL - 2
RB - 1 LB - 3
WR - 2.5 DB - 2
OL - 1.5 ..

Passing: Andy Roesch, 202-113-7, 1341 yds., 15 TD

Rushing: Scott Blair, 63 att., 180 yds., 1 TD

Receiving: Dante Ridgeway, 44 rec., 556 yds., 4 TD

Scoring: Mike Langford, 9-13 FG, 31-33 PAT, 58 pts.

Punting: Reggie Hodges, 57 punts, 40.3 avg.

Kicking: Mike Langford, 9-13 FG, 31-33 PAT, 58 pts.

Tackles: Lorenzo Scott, 124 tot., 49 solo

Sacks: Justin Riley, 3 sacks

Interceptions: Douglas Owusu, 3 for 48 yds.

Kickoff returns: Larry Bostic, 22 ret., 21.9 avg.

Punt returns: Ryan Hahaj, 1 ret., 9.0 avg.


OFFENSE: David Miller-OT, Colin Johnson-C, Marcus Merriweather-TB, Scott Volk-FB, Jon Eckert-TE, Tim Streit-TE, Sean Schembra-WR
DEFENSE: Jonas Williams-DE, Charles Avant-S, Mike Brizendine-LB, Steve Monson-CB, Donald Crumpton-LB

written by Dan Newman

The Cardinals biggest issue on the offensive side of the ball will be to find a replacement(s) for departed running back Marcus Merriweather, who tallied a Ball State single-season record of 1,618 yards. It looks as if the running game could be severely lacking, as the rest of the team combined for just 285 yards and three touchdowns, led by senior Scott Blair.

The passing game seems to be in good hands as experience dots the roster. Sophomore Dante Ridgeway led the team in receptions and receiving yards, yet didn't start a single game!! But that's probably about to change, although, not without a fight. Looking to line up on the other side is another '02 sophomore non-starter, Larry Bostic. At just 5-foot-7, he uses speed and superior route-running. Others provide depth, but not much.

The most intriguing battle going into camp on either side of the ball will be at quarterback, where incumbent Andy Roesch will campaign against fellow senior Talmadge Gardner, whom Rosech replaced after the fifth game of 2002. Roesch's record as a starter was a mediocre 4-3, but he has shown flashes of brilliance. Just as his record as a starter was mediocre, his 15-to-7 TD-to-INT ratio gives promise. But still, he clearly outplayed Hill, who had just five TDs yet seven INTs, and was eventually benched.

As if there is not going to be enough of a problem trying to find a replacement for Merriweather in the backfield, the offensive line is up in the air, too. Brand new starters will fill both positions on the left side, as well as the center spot. One of the few luxuries the team has is its right side of the line, led by 5th year senior Travis Barclay. He has started 23 consecutive games. Look for Barclay, a Verizon Academic All-American, to start at the tackle spot, and junior Jeff Ramsey to play right guard. With regard to possibilities to help beef up the line, there should be no fears as 6-foot-5, 330-pound junior Ty Knisely and 6-foot-7, 310-pound true freshman Kevin Neville may be called upon to help guide the running game. The talent is there, but can it perform as a unit in real-game situations? Answers will come quickly and adjustments will follow.


OT Travis Barclay


Returning Starters in bold
QB Andy Roesch-Sr Talmadge Hill-Sr
FB Brad Salyer-Fr Jason Sieman-Fr
TB Scott Blair-Jr Charles Wynn-So
WR Ryan Hahaj-So Dante Ridgeway-So
WR Larry Bostic-So Derek Broussard-Fr
TE Mark Franklin-Jr Bryan Smith-So
OT Joel Hofmann-Sr Ty Knisley-Jr
OG Jeff Ramsey-Jr Adam Rothstein-So
C Nick Tabacca-Jr Patrick Neils-So
OG Mike Brown-Fr Jerome Tilmon-Jr
OT Travis Barclay-Sr Justin Schneider-Fr
K Phil Cunningham-Sr Mike Langford-Sr



written by Dan Newman

Most teams' top stopper is a linebacker. The Cardinals are no different with two-sport star Lorenzo Scott leading the way, including a team-high 10 tackles for loss. The senior has signed a contract to play with the Baltimore Orioles baseball team but has decided that he will play football in '03 for Ball State. Helping Scott in the LB corps is fellow senior Justin Riley, who (meagerly) led the '02 squad with three sacks. The BSU sack leader again registering so few will be a clear statistical signal of poor line play.

The defense as a whole let up 4.7 yards per carry (second worst in the conference) and over 170 rushing yards per game. Fortunately, three of the front four defensive linemen are returning starters, led by interior tackles Greg Pagnard and Conrad Slaughter. They're not the biggest inside guys; so they'll look for help from the third returning starter on the line, end Blair Kramer. It looks like a repeat performance of '02's marginally poor play. Surprise us, guys, would ya?

Key reserve Quentin Manley, the team's top cover guy, and returning starter Jesse Avant will, again, both need to come up from their secondary spots to help plug. Justin Beriault had 121 tackles from his safety spot to finish second on the team. The other safety, Douglas Owusu, looks to reclaim his starting spot. If this season has the same low INT totals to go with forced eight-man fronts, it will be another uphill battle for a defense self-aware of its shortcomings.

The defense is fairly settled coming into camp, as it brings seven starters back to go along with some deep (and experienced) reserves. Statistically, the defense was rather marginal, ranking in the middle of the MAC in most categories. This season should be much different. One move to improve run-stopping ability is, at sporadic intervals, sending extra men in the box. The secondary has proved that it can hold its own, but this risky tactic can easily backfire. "High risk, high reward" plays itself out with drastic results one way or another.


LB Lorenzo Scott


Returning Starters in bold
DE Riley Larimore-Fr Vincent Davis-Fr
DT Greg Pagnard-Sr Nick Graymire-So
DT Conrad Slaughter-Jr Justin Schweighardt-So
DE Paul Strabavy-Sr Blair Kramer-So
LB Justin Riley-Sr Anthony Corpuz-Fr
LB Donta Smith-So Andy Stark-So
LB Lorenzo Scott-Sr Greg Engel-Fr
CB Jesse Avant-Sr Cory Crumpton-Sr
CB Quentin Manley-Sr Tommy Schembra-Jr
SS Justin Beriault-Jr Erik Keys-Fr
FS Douglas Owusu-Sr David Gater-So
P Reggie Hodges-Sr ..




The kicking game is experienced and consistent. Reggie Hodges brings his 40.3 yards-per-punt average back to Muncie for his final season, and fellow senior PK Mike Langford was 9-for-13 (5-for-7 from 40+). These areas must stay strong to balance the unknown quality of the coverage teams.

Accordingly, the coverage units have much work to do, as they gave up nearly 20 yards per kickoff return and 11.3 yards on punts.

These units have the potential for anyone to be difference maker in any game. Of Hodges' 57 punts, 23 were downed inside the 20. The biggest mission for this unit is getting good field position for the inexperienced offense.