MUNCIE – It was a fitting sequence for the opening drive of the last scrimmage of the spring before what could be a breakout season for the Cardinal and White.
Early in the first major series for the Ball State offense on Saturday, Keith Wenning took the snap and rolled to his left. Immediately he spotted Willie Snead down the field and tossed it towards the sidelines. The receiver promptly took off down the sidelines 35 yards for the first down.
A few plays later, Wenning took a shotgun snap looked to his left and lofted it towards the corner. Once again, Snead was there to pull it in, beating a defender in time to get a foot down for the touchdown and the first score for the Cardinals’ number one offense.
“Me and Keith, we’re on the same page,” said Snead, who caught eight passes from Wenning during Saturday’s scrimmage at Scheumann Stadium-but really that statement is in the present and future.
The Wenning-to-Snead connection was one of the best in the Mid-American Conference a season ago and could be again as both players return with a significant amount of experience along with on-field repoire.
“He’s a great receiver and he’s a student of the game,” said Wenning of Snead. “Me and him we’ve worked a lot since we both got here in this offense. Each year it’s just developing a little bit more.We really try in practice to work on the small things.”
A season ago the attention to detail helped to produce big numbers and a few memorable moment’s during the Cardinals’ 9-4 season. Wenning found Snead 83 times for 1,078 yards and nine touchdowns. The duo had their first big moment at Indiana on September 15th when the quarterback found the receiver on a perfectly executed out pattern with under ten seconds left, one in which Snead made a diving catch in bounds then got out of bounds before time expired.
The catch set up the game-winning 42-yard field goal to give Ball State a 41-39 win over the Hoosiers, but then next week brought more drama. Against South Florida at home, Wenning looked Snead’s way in the final minute hitting the receiver for a diving 19-yard touchdown catch that gave the Cardinals a 31-27 victory over the Bulls.
“We have a great feel for each other on the field,” said Wenning of Snead. “We almost know what each other’s thinking which is a great advantage against a defense.”
So why the repoire on the field? Both players credit offseason passing workouts in Muncie as the reason for their ability to make plays in 2012 and their frequent connections during Saturday’s Spring Game.
“Throwing in the offseason, all that stuff in the summer you build a connection like that,” said Snead. “I feel like we’ve built that connection and that’s how we’ve been able to complete passes.”
If they can do so again Ball State figures to be a major contender for the MAC championship, considering the team returns most of its skill players on offense besides Wenning and Snead. As they have in the past, both plan to continue to work together to perfect Pete Lembo’s offense before the season opener at home against Illinois State on August 29th.
“We both understand the game. We spend a lot of time outside of practice out here on this field by ourselves doing extra stuff,” said Wenning. “So we understand the game and working with each other on this certain defense we’re gonna do this. When the corner does this, we’re gonna do this so it’s just being on the same page.”
That way the duo can start writing more of them in what could be a breakout season in Muncie.