College Football

Riley, Gilbert give Ball State shot at bounce back season

MUNCIE, Ind. (WISH) — Nothing went Mike Neu’s way last season. 

Injuries everywhere left Ball State University’s football team in the basement of the Mid-American Conference at 0-8. Coach Neu’s last address of the season came with a dash of hope next season.

“Nov. 21, I won’t forget that night,” Neu said. “I stepped up and said, “Hey, guys, get away from here but the 2018 season starts once we return.’ It’s time to go. I think everyone’s mindset once we got back in January was just let’s go man, it is time and we believe in one another.” 

Indianapolis native James Gilbert is going to help. The former Arsenal Tech High School star is back on the field after only playing three games last season due to a hand injury. 

“We had to go through some adversity to have better days in the future. So, our pains that we went through, will be gained,” Gilbert said. 

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The rebound season in Muncie starts at quarterback with the return of Riley Neal. The Cardinals started four different quarterbacks last season after Neal went down with a knee injury after Week 3. 

It is no secret, that this is a big year for Mike Neu. For the first time since his coaching days in the Arena Football League, Neu is talking over the play calling duties this fall.

“Preseason polls are what they are,” Neal said. “We didn’t give them a reason last year to put us higher than they did. But it is just a poll, it is a piece of paper.”

Before Ball State can make a move in the Mid-American Conference, the Cardinals take a trip to a special place for the first time in school history: South Bend and the University of Notre Dame. 

“As a young kid growing up on the south side of Indianapolis, I watched that football team week in and week out. It is going to be a great opportunity.” 

After 2017, the luck of the Irish is due this season in Muncie.