Ball State QB Keith Wenning off to great start, improves stock

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Ball State senior quarterback Keith Wenning had arthroscopic knee surgery in early August, and his readiness for the beginning of the season was in question. It shouldn't have been.

Wenning is tied for ninth nationally in passing at 328.2 yards per game, and he has thrown nine TD passes and two interceptions. The four-year starter is considered a potential late draft pick next May, and a strong senior season obviously would improve his stock.

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Wenning spent some time in the summer working out with quarterback guru Todd Durkin. At the MAC Media Day, Wenning said he worked with Durkin at the same time that Drew Brees, Carson Palmer and Alex Smith were at Durkin's California facility. He joked the NFL quarterbacks helped him but that "I really wouldn't say much to them about helping them."

Wenning's biggest positive is his arm strength; indeed, he has said in the past that his biggest negative might be trusting too much in his arm by forcing throws into tight coverage.

Wenning threw for 317 yards and two touchdowns in Saturday's 51-20 rout of Eastern Michigan. It was his school-record 10th 300-yard game, and he has reached the 300-yard plateau in every game this season. Wenning threw for 3,095 yards and 24 TDs last fall, and had four games with at least three TD passes; he is on a pace to throw for 3,938 yards this season.

Wenning ranks seventh in career passing yardage (8,569) and in career TD passes (66) among current quarterbacks, and he's third among current quarterbacks in career completions (807, behind Troy's Corey Robinson and Louisiana-Monroe's Kolton Browning).

Junior wide receiver Willie Snead (5-11, 193) is his favorite receiver, and Snead already has 28 receptions for 480 yards (17.1 yards per catch) and four TDs. Snead's yardage total ranks third nationally, and his 120.0 yards-per-game average is eighth.

Snead lacks elite speed, but he runs good routes and knows how to get open. He played high school ball for his dad at Muskegon (Mich.) Heights, where he was a state player of the year as a quarterback. He began his high school career at powerhouse Belle Glade (Fla.) Glades Central before his dad, Willie Snead III, left Glades Central for Muskegon Heights. The elder Snead played wide receiver at Virginia and Florida in the early 1980s.

Snead has caught at least five passes in each game this season and has had nine receptions in two games. He had 10 games with at least six receptions last season, when he finished with 89 catches for 1,148 yards (12.9 yards per catch) and nine TDs.

The Wenning-Snead pass-catch duo is the best in the MAC and also the main reason the Cardinals are expected to reach a bowl for the second season in a row and just the seventh time in school history.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at mike.huguenin@nfl.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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