The bad news for Ball State football fans: Quarterback Keith Wenning was standing on the sidelines Saturday afternoon for the team’s fourth practice of the season.
With that said, you can all exhale in relief. Wenning, who threw for 24 touchdowns, 3,095 yards, and who set a school record with 301 completions in 2012, underwent an arthroscopic knee injury Saturday morning. However, Wenning was in good spirits on Saturday, and Cardinals Head Coach Pete Lembo fully expects his 2013 Maxwell Award List nominee to be ready suiting up in the near future.
“He had an annoying little particle there in his knee,” said Lembo. “It’s probably an old high school injury. So we figured let’s get it taken care of. He’ll be out a week or so, but he feels great. The surgery went really well, instant relief.”
Despite the senior leader standing on crutches, everything continued without a hitch as the Cardinals continue to prepare for their home-opener against Illinois State on August 29th. The weekday game is just one of four match-ups that the Cardinals have that is played away from the standard Saturday games for college football. This is nothing new for the Ball State program or the Mid-American Conference, but it helped spring together the team’s slogan for the 2013 season: “Anything, Anytime, Anywhere”.
“It means that we are just taking each day, day by day,” said Junior receiver Willie Snead. “Anybody on the schedule, we are going to treat them like Illinois State, Virginia, we are going to treat them the same. That’s just what we have to do. It doesn’t matter who we are playing, we still have to play the same.”
Snead, who was named to the Biletnikoff Award watch list, is one of five Cardinals along with Zane Fakes, Jamill Smith, Wenning, and Jahwan Edwards named to a national awards watch list. To have five members at different offensive skill positions named to such lists shows how potent this Cardinals offense can be in 2013. It also means the Cardinals are going to have plenty of veterans to lead a squad that went 9-4 in 2012.
“It excites us a lot,” said Edwards, who rushed for 1,410 yards in 2013. “There are a lot of experienced people on the offense, and we are looked at as leaders. That means we can easily talk to a guy on the side, tell them to get their head together when they aren’t doing things right. We are just pushing these guys that are just starting this year, and it’s a great thing.”
The Cardinals know they had much success last year, reaching the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s St. Petersburg Bowl last December, the expectations of this season this year are going to be high. On paper the Cardinals will have a more then a handful of winnable games in the MAC next season, along with non-conference opponents that include Illinois State, Army, Virginia, and North Texas. However, games aren’t determined on paper but rather on the field, and Ball State doesn’t seem like they are letting any notions of outside predictions get to their heads.
“One of the things about Ball State’s history is, there hasn’t been a lot of consistent winning here,” said Lembo. “We are here to change that, but we know we have to do more with less. We’ve got to be really humble, and we have to focus on getting better every day.”