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Ball State
vs. Colgate
When: 2 p.m. today
TV: ESPN3

Cardinals not taking season-opening FCS foe lightly

– Ball State football coach Pete Lembo can refer to recent history when it comes to the possibility of overconfidence against Colgate, an FCS team, in the season opener Saturday.

The Cardinals opened the 2013 season with a 51-28 win over another FCS opponent, Illinois State, that was a battle in the first half.

“It doesn’t make any difference whatsoever to us,” Lembo said of Colgate’s status. “If you needed to mention FCS, all you have to do is remind our guys that at one point we were down 21-9 to Illinois State last year and closed the gap before the half and fortunately were able to play well in the second half and pull away.

“Our guys have done a great job throughout the years of staying humble, focusing on ourselves and respecting every opponent. We have come a long way as a program, but I don’t think anybody around here is starting to put the cart before the horse and starting to believe we can just show up and win games.”

Ball State will be facing a Colgate team that was 4-8 last year (3-2 in the Patriot League) that will be under the direction of first-year coach Dan Hunt, a former assistant coach in the program.

Lembo said he doesn’t foresee a lot of wholesale changes with the Raiders with the new coach.

“He’s brought back some Colgate alums and guys who have coached on that staff previously. I think they will maintain their identity as a tough, rugged football team, which they have always been,” Lembo said.

The Cardinals went 10-3 last year, losing 23-20 to Arkansas State in the GoDaddy Bowl. And there are question marks for Ball State as it begins a new season.

“We have a lot of new faces in the lineup and have guys who will have much bigger roles on this team and will have to embrace those roles for this team to be successful,” Lembo said. “They are anxious to make their mark, and I am anxious see them do it.”

Among the new faces will be sophomore quarterback Ozzie Mann, who will be replacing Keith Wenning. With Wenning, who is a rookie for the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens, at the helm the Cardinals set a school record last year with 501 points.

“It’s going to be another day at the office for him,” Lembo said of Mann. “One of the great things about Ozzie is he is a very even-keeled guy. There’s not a lot of highs and lows to his personality.”

gjones@jg.net

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