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BTP Team Ball State Postgame Group Therapy aka Trying to Stay Positive

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We’re trying, honestly

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 21 Ball State at NC State Photo by Jaylynn Nash/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

PirateWolf: Give me a minute to get the laptop up

... And to grab another beer

TheRealEssad: Haha, we’re in for it now

Let’s just jump right in and address the elephant in the room

Today Matt McKay was announced as the starter for FSU. Surprised?

PirateWolf: Not at all surprised... sadly

JEOHankins2: So I don’t want to be too nuanced here...but he was first on the Monday depth chart...Thursday is the one that matters...we’ve seen guys who are injured be listed on the depth chart first and not play a snap

PirateWolf: I feel like to this point, McKay has had more than a fair shake and he just hasn’t delivered

But who knows... maybe Doeren’s going to have McKay as the 1st half QB and Hockman as the 2nd half QB

TheRealEssad: That’s also true, but for a starting QB with no injuries, it’s unlikely to change for Thursday

JEOHankins2: The language Doeren used referring to the QB situation sounded more fluid than these past few weeks

TheRealEssad: In that case I hope he would soften on his stance

I agree that he’s gotten his chances. It’s been 4 games

”just 4 games”, but still

JEOHankins2: I’m not saying it will...and in fact I don;t think it will to start the game...I just don’t take any stock in a Monday depth as I do a Thursday...adding to that it was released before QB discussions were had according to CDD

I really believe we will see two guys this Saturday, by design or not

TheRealEssad: For the uninitiated can you give a summary of what he said

JEOHankins2: They asked about QBs and if there was any thought on what they’d do about the position...he said that they’ve considered a lot of things and that their meeting to discuss the gameplan and QBs hadn’t happened yet

now that could most definitely be spin, again it probably is,

TheRealEssad: It’s at least more than what we’ve heard before

JEOHankins2: it avoids more questions about the most heightened issue on the team...but I still believe that if McKay were our starter, lone QB for sure...he had ample time to say that or imply that

TheRealEssad: True

I do think he showed promising flashes of the guy the coaches likely saw in camp and practice, but inconsistency is starting to spread to the rest of the team

I could feel the energy from both the team and crowd lift when Hockman came in

They had an extra pep in their step

JEOHankins2: Agreed in full

TheRealEssad: I don’t know how the coaches didn’t sense that

PirateWolf: That’s what I worry about more than anything, that mentality of “oh, man, we’re down 14 in the 3rd quarter... game over” spreading to the rest of the team

TheRealEssad: Or, “damn, 3rd and long AGAIN”

PirateWolf: I really feel like the coaching staff is being almost unfair to Hockman (and Leary) by not even giving them meaningful opportunities to prove their abilities in game situations

Is McKay talented? Absolutely. Does he have the highest ceiling of any QB on the roster? Possibly. But is he struggling? Yes.

TheRealEssad: I mentioned this a few weeks ago, and I still feel like he’s reluctant to run and hang in to make ill advised throws

And when he does run he almost doesn’t fully commit

He looked like he was a step slow in his designed runs. I don’t know what their 40 times are, but Hockman may be faster.

PirateWolf: Dude, Hockman looked like a real stud running the ball on his one carry. I know he’s a “Pro-style” QB, but he looked every bit of a dual-threat on that play

JEOHankins2: I imagine they are frustrated for sure...and I hope their frustration doesn’t do lasting damage to team chemistry...split the locker room between guys who want McKay vs Hockman vs Leary etc...the staff must recognize that not only do we see the mistakes...but the players who are looking for a reception do too...the defense that has to come in after another 3-and-out has to feel it as well

What was most impressive about Hockman’s scramble was how decisive he was...

TheRealEssad: Yeah. I HOPE the coaches will see that on film

Even though the ACC is down, the defenses we’ll be facing soon will only be getting faster than what he’s faced so far

PirateWolf: So it sounds like to sum up: none of us are overly confident in the coaching decisions right now regarding the QB position

JEOHankins2: nope, not confident

TheRealEssad: Bingo, maybe we should stop beating the horse

So. Dylan Autenrieth injured for the remainder of the season. I think this is actually a big loss

He’s great in run blocking

JEOHankins2: Yeah, he was so good at leading the charge and blocking down field on outside runs...that will hurt quite a bit...curious how the staff will adapt

I am interested to see the use of a 6th OL as a TE on running plays...

TheRealEssad: That’s an option

PirateWolf: Autenrieth is a huge loss, but thankfully the other TEs have looked good so far this year

TheRealEssad: Yeah, maybe more looks for Angeline

PirateWolf: Did Autenrieth already use his redshirt?

TheRealEssad: Currently he’s a redshirt junior

But DD says he should be able to apply for a 6th year

On a brighter note, James Smith-Williams and Bam Knight are expected back

Both will be much needed

PirateWolf: That is very good news

JEOHankins2: I really like what we saw out of Houston and Person (sans those 3rd &1, 4th & 1 plays)...getting Bam back just convinces me even more that we should scrap balance for skill...losing Dylan makes that tougher I suppose

I also liked the sense of urgency from the DL, adding depth with JSW could hopefully get us in the backfield more...those current guys had to rush the passer 57 times in that game

TheRealEssad: Yeah, go heavy on run if you can get the lanes

I did like the additional blitzes

PirateWolf: Definitely glad to see the additional aggressiveness from the defense. I have to figure that’s a byproduct of bringing Gibson in on the coaching staff

TheRealEssad: Hornibrook is a young QB, so we will have to get pressure on him

I glanced a little at FSU fan chatter, they are not very heartbroken about the QB change

All respect to Blackman’s injury

JEOHankins2: They sound a lot like us really

TheRealEssad: Haha, two sides of the coin

JEOHankins2: but on a more visceral level

TheRealEssad: But they got there quicker with Willie

JEOHankins2: They aren’t happy with the QB play...have a stud running back that’s helped them in games...and feel questionable about the defense

PirateWolf: I kinda feel bad for Blackman. He was a project recruit, ultra-talented, but he was thrown to wolves way too early and the mixed results skewed the fans perception of him and I think also stunted his growth as a QB a bit. Experience is great, but bad experiences can hurt, especially for a guy who needed a lot of development time.

JEOHankins2: Yeah that’s for sure

TheRealEssad: Yup

Sending Chubb and co. after him right when he came in for Francois didn’t help

JEOHankins2: Francois was supposed to be the guy...they were preseason darlings before that Bama game...it is baffling to see how quickly they fell

PirateWolf: I’ll always wonder what could have been if Blackman were able to redshirt and then develop in the background until finally getting his shot as a redshirt junior

... and, of course, assuming that Jimbo was still there that whole time

JEOHankins2: Bringing up Blackman makes me think about how this is a narrative perfectly set for Hockman if the staff lets him play meaningful snaps

TheRealEssad: Yeah, it’s almost too good to actually happen haha

JEOHankins2: I can imagine Hockman not having as many nerves going to Doak Campbell...and wanting to play at his highest level...don’t know what his relationship was with the fanbase or staff concerning his leaving

TheRealEssad: Not sure about that

PirateWolf: Hockman definitely seems like one of those dudes that doesn’t let the stage bother him

Okay, fastball in the dirt on his first throw aside, he seemed poised and confident

To me, that was just him being overly amped to get that first pass off

TheRealEssad: Agree

JEOHankins2: honestly...on a pass like that, I’d much rather you go low in the dirt than any other direction

TheRealEssad: My worrisome scenario: McKay has another bad game next week in a loss at FSU, and THEN the coaches will make the change. But by then it will have been after an avoidable loss. FSU is definitely beatable, but you’ll need a good qb to do it.

PirateWolf: Not to get back to WVU again, but that was an avoidable loss, too...

JEOHankins2: To that point, can I ask a silly question?

TheRealEssad: Shoot

JEOHankins2: IF McKay had thrown...say 2 picks against WVU, would Dave had kept him as the starter this long?

PirateWolf: Heck no. If McKay was turning the ball over, he would have already been benched

JEOHankins2: Isn’t that crazy?

TheRealEssad: Dave Doeren detests turnovers

PirateWolf: There is certainly a huge value to having a QB who’s not going to turn the ball over, but...

JEOHankins2: Something as singular, valuable but singular, as not turning the ball over likely kept us in this QB controversy for longer than needed

PirateWolf: If Doeren were a baseball coach, he’d pick the pitcher who gave us 100 dingers but didn’t walk anyone over the guy who was a strikeout machine but also walked a few too many

”No freebies!”

”But, Coach, they’re hitting it over the fence!”

”He’s a competitor!”

TheRealEssad: Hahaha

JEOHankins2: Complete less than 50% of your passes...sail out routes and screens...but just happen not to have the bad luck of a defender making a pick...and you’re entrenched as the starter

maybe the punted INT was a blessing in disguise

PirateWolf: I’m definitely thinking now, though, that McKay’s propensity to overthrow everyone on the field is by design more than just pure bad accuracy

TheRealEssad: One of my KEY stats from Saturday: McKay was 1 of 8 for 1 yard and an interception in the 2nd half.

PirateWolf: Oh... My... Gawwwwd

I had not seen that stat

TheRealEssad: Unless I read it wrong

JEOHankins2: No you’re right

PirateWolf:

JEOHankins2: McKay was 1 of 8 for 1 yard...Hockman was 1 of 1 for 15

TheRealEssad: If it’s by design then he is choosing not to throw it to guys on go routes who have their man beat by 10 yards. Cool cool

Speaking on the team as a whole

My other key stat takeaway:

Ball State’s offense outperformed State’s offense

BS had 417 yards of total offense, with the Wolfpack putting up 389

To me, this speaks to our lack of consistency on BOTH sides of the ball

PirateWolf: Agreed

There are just question marks everywhere right now and it’s very concerning

TheRealEssad: 333 passing yards, not great

JEOHankins2: Yeah...but I’ll say this...the guy threw 57 times to get to his 300 plus yard game...that’s not a good avg...and if you’re going to throw that much against a bang-up defense you’re going to get yards

TheRealEssad: That’s true

JEOHankins2: His avg per pass was like 5.3?

PirateWolf: True... but he did enough to keep them in the game

and if not for State’s special team excellence - and Ball State’s special teams failures - that game might have turned out completely different

TheRealEssad: Yup, sadly

JEOHankins2: See I don’t put this one on the defense in my opinion...we definitely have work to do...but the offense could not sustain drives in the second half...

PirateWolf: Plitt wasn’t racking up numbers in garbage time with short, safe throws. He was getting the job done that needed to be done for his team. That’s not good for NC State

JEOHankins2: They scored 1 TD on their first possession and one late...

TheRealEssad: And Hornibrook is only going to be a step up

PirateWolf: Absolutely agree. If the offense moved the ball even just a bit, it’s not an issue. I don’t blame the defense - Ball State is a good offensive football team

TheRealEssad: Plus he’s mobile

JEOHankins2: If the offense gets in position to even kick a couple more field goals its a blowout

TheRealEssad: On a positive note, Ingle, Murch and Ingram had good games. Ingle with 11 tackles, Murch 2 TFL with .5 sack

Ingram saved our bacon with that endzone INT

JEOHankins2: Ingram is ACC Defensive POTW

TheRealEssad: I just saw that! Good for him

PirateWolf: Great catch by Ingram, but let’s give CJ Hart the credit he deserves on that one. That’s a tough cover job for a LB and he blanketed the receiver and made the deflection to set up the pick

TheRealEssad: Very true

JEOHankins2: YES...CJ The Hitman Hart

TheRealEssad: I want to say the secondary has been better, but then also they’re giving up a lot of things, so I’m not sure

JEOHankins2: and you know what he did too, he turned his head as the pass was coming...fundamental, but prevented a potential PI

TheRealEssad: Would ya look at that

JEOHankins2: They had very poor play against WVU...and whoever is playing opposite Ingram...Miller or Smith, continue to get picked on...I think Ingle has been what we’ve needed him to be, he had good moments in coverage too...just weird the two Srs Morehead and Griffin have been so quiet

TheRealEssad: Yeah

So to start wrapping things up

I am just hoping to avoid a major catastrophic tire fire in Tallahassee, lord knows Florida has enough of those

We are currently 19th in the country in rush defense, so I’m hoping we can use that to contain Akers and force Hornibrook to beat us, that’s really our main hope

PirateWolf: I don’t know what to expect out of this game anymore. Hoping for a win, but almost just hoping to see positive signs at this point as much as anything

I really hope to see a lot of 4 DL fronts in this game. With JSW coming back, let’s use the strength there

TheRealEssad: Yup

We have so much skill around the field. DD and crew really have put a talented group together, credit where it’s due. It’s just not clicking

PirateWolf: Hornibrook is a good QB and certainly capable of beating us through the air, but Akers is without a doubt FSU’s best player. Focus on shutting him down and putting FSU in bad down-and-distance situations. Take your chances there

TheRealEssad: I’ll take those odds

JEOHankins2: Agreed with 4 DL more...Hornibrook has had the experience of playing meaningful games before...he won’t be afraid of the moment

We have to just hope FSU fans are correct about how bad they’ve been...and that we are just a little better than Louisville who played with a backup Sat and nearly won

but I fully agree...I just want to see our QB decision settled, and improvement in the passing game

Oh and NO MORE injuries...let’s leave Tallahassee healthy

TheRealEssad: And FSU-State games are always wonky. Many times in our favor. Let’s hope that continues. I’m going to replay the Jakoby juke step gif on repeat until Saturday night

With the front flip

JEOHankins2: A thing of beauty

TheRealEssad: Okay guys, thanks again, see y’all next week, Go Pack!

PirateWolf: Yes. Watch the Meyers juke and flip TD to keep the good feels going

yes, sir! Thank you! Go Pack!

JEOHankins2: By unanimous consent...Go Pack!