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Lembo concerned with quarterback play, not quarterbacks specifically

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Ball State signal callers making good progress this spring

Tuesday, April 8, 2014 - 10:46 am

MUNCIE – Minute after minute wafts by during “Summer of '42.” Frame after frame, an idyllic Cape Cod scene by scene. It begins to gnaw, at most males anyway, as to when exactly is this guy (Hermie) going to get intimate with Jennifer O'Neill?

The movie's director was in no hurry, and Ball State football coach Pete Lembo is similarly taking his time in solving the mystery of who will replace Keith Wenning at quarterback next fall.

“I'm less concerned with who the starter is right now,” Lembo said, “and more concerned with 'Are they all getting better?' And I feel like they are.”

And in that regard, the four Cardinals quarterbacks (Ozzie Mann, Jack Milas, Kyle Kamman and David Morrison) are meeting Lembo's expectations midway through spring practice.

Redshirt sophomore Mann and redshirt freshman Milas sit atop the depth chart ahead of junior walk-on Kamman and true freshman Morrison. And though no measure of separation is significant at this juncture, the veteran Mann has been a pleasant surprise to some who questioned whether Ball State would struggle at the position this autumn.

“It's too early to really say that one is separating,” Lembo said. “Ozzie has had three or four very, very good practices in a row. He's impressing his teammates right now with the progress that he's making.”

Though Milas has been in the program nearly a full calendar year, he is “still processing a little bit more at times” in terms of the nuances of this offense than the more experienced Mann. But that doesn't mean he isn't showing some ability.

“At times, it shows up that Jack was on the scout team last year, when Ozzie was getting the (No. 2) reps,” Lembo said. “But Jack can make some really good throws. He's got a really nice touch and a really good feel for the game.

“A lot of things come very natural to Jack.”

Lembo's offenses have been productive enough – for a long enough period – that he isn't overly concerned about getting one specific guy to stand out above the rest. Lembo often in his two-plus decades of coaching has seen multiple quarterbacks be called into action during the season, and that includes even when a team has an All-Everything player such as Wenning.

“We do what we do,” Lembo stated emphatically. “If you come out and watch us practice, we go out and operate. We go out there and play.”

Lembo's confidence in the process of putting an offensive unit together spreads to his players.

“I don't think (center) Jake Richard is getting up over the ball right now and saying 'Who's behind me? I've got to be worried,'” Lembo said. “We go out and play.

“And to the quarterbacks' credit, and I think (new offensive coordinator) Joey Lynch is demanding this of them, take control, take authority, go out there and let us run the offense. And that is what they are doing.”

For Cardinal fans, that means this spring is a time to sit back, relax and have confidence that Lembo – and Hermie, for that matter – will get this thing figured out in the end.

Morrison making strides

Morrison my be young, but immaturity is not part of his DNA.

The former Concordia Lutheran High School star is so committed to playing this game at its highest level that he forewent the final five months of his senior year in high school – and all of the fond memories that occur at that time – and moved into a lonely dorm room, hours from home and in the midst of a brutal winter, to give himself the best opportunity to succeed.

While his high school classmates are preparing for prom, Morrison is preparing period.

“David is a football junkie,” Lembo said. “He's learning. He's competing. (Football) is important to him. He's got a lot of very good athleticism.

“I don't think that there is any doubt that he'll benefit from (strength coach) Dave Feeley's offseason program next winter. But right now, he's taking advantage of being here.”