MUNCIE – Ball State wrapped up its preseason this past weekend and the coaching staff released their updated depth chart on Monday, naming redshirt-sophomore Ozzie Mann the starting quarterback.
Mann has had the most experience with the Ball State offense of any of the four quarterbacks on the roster, but that’s not saying much. Playing behind former All-MAC Second Team quarterback Keith Wenning in 2013, Mann attempted just nine passes.
Mann, along with junior Kyle Kamman, redshirt-freshman Jack Milas and true-freshmen David Morrison, came into the 2014 season in a four-way quarterback battle, but Mann slowly gained the trust of his coaching staff and began to separate himself.
“Now that we’re out of the preseason and we feel comfortable with [Mann] as our starter, it’s more about refining things,” head coach Pete Lembo said after Wednesday’s practice. “It’s more about having a feel for what he does well and how that fits in with the rest of the offense.”
Lembo praised Mann’s quick decision making and leadership within the offense, but also understands Mann is inexperienced and has room to grow.
Mann showed off his touch with a few balls to the corner of the end zone toward the end of practice, but also demonstrated his inexperience with poorly placed passes over the middle to covered receivers, one of which led to an interception earlier in the day.
“Certainly we want to be careful not to put too much on his plate, but I’ve been impressed with just how he’s grown mentally as well as how he’s grown physically.”
With a new quarterback leading the offense and a mostly-new receiving corps, it would seem Ball State should lean on their running game, especially with running back Jahwan Edwards returning for his senior season. Lembo has acknowledged the fact, but also insisted that they’ll stick to their identity and not shift into a power running team this season.
Ball State will open their season at home August 30, leaving just over a week until we found out just how much Mann will drop back and pass.