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    [2022] Western Michigan Preview

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    MACConferenceFeatureLogo.png?w=1200

     

    Coached by @Pskeate

     

     

    "Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown."  After winning back-to-back MAC titles the Broncos have a big target on their back, and new coach pskeate jumps headlong into the fray.  On offense they have a lot of continuity, having only lost three starters on offense - although two of them are NFLHC players OT Marc Allen and TE Carlos Vargas.  On defense it's a bit harder with five players leaving, including ALL of the 2021 starting secondary.  However, the overall talent level and offensive continuity has fans in Kalamazoo hopeful for an unprecedented third straight conference championship.

     

    The Good:

     

    Backfield: It all starts with DeSean Madison.  The junior running back rushed 302 times for 1829 yards in 14 games last year, with a whopping 26 TDs.  Opponents know he's getting the ball and for the most part can't do anything about it.  MAC coaches outside of Kalamazoo are hoping he declares after this season.  Of course he's not the only player in Western's backfield; senior QB Chase Sims returns for one more go-around.  While Sims stumbled late in the season he is known for his efficiency rather than his volume; he is a career 63.8% passer with 46 TDs versus 16 INTs.  Sims isn't going to beat you single-handedly, but he can make defenses pay for loading the box against Madison.

     

    Defensive Line: Junior DT Silas Booker was a well-kept secret until last season, when he racked up 42 tackles, 7 TFL, and 12.5 sacks enroute to a 1st-team All-MAC award.  Now he and fellow interior lineman Rocco Gifford are back to collapse the pocket from the inside in order to free up DEs Victor Roberson (27 TKL, 5 TFL, 8.0 Sacks) and redshirt freshman Kayden Soriano.
     

     

    The Bad:

     

    Pass-catchers:  Aaden Jack came out of nowhere to post good numbers as the #2 WR (54 catches for 916 yards, 9 TDs) but as a 3.0/3.0 can he do it again?  Meanwhile, #1 WR Josh Whitt wasn't bad (52 catches for 780 yards, 6 TDs) but WMU will need the 4.0/4.0 senior to step up against the defense's best CB every game.  Slot WR Bryce Waters and TE Hunter Stallings aren't bad bad (3.0/3.0 and 3.5/3.5 respectively), but they are brand new.  Will Sims be able to develop chemistry with them?


    Right tackle: Redshirt junior Luka Schmidt finally gets his chance to start, although he's not quite on the same talent level as his linemates (3.0/3.0).  Is he someone other MAC teams would love to have starting for them?  Yes.  This may be a nitpicky flaw, but when you're competing for titles everything matters.

     

     

    The Unknown:

     

    Secondary: Considering that the ENTIRE starting back four is gone (CB Jaylin McQueen, CB Emmanuel Faulk, and FS Donovan Jackson graduated, SS Jaylin Hinds declared for the draft), the secondary doesn't look as bad as it could have been, hence their appearance in the Unknown category instead of Bad.  JuCo Zaire Hooker steps into a starting CB position and Miles Bradford moves from the slot to the opposite side, while redshirt sophomore Lardarius McAfee mans strong safety and true freshman Julius Reese picks up at free.  The talent is there, but is the chemistry?
     

    Coach: pskeate arrived on campus ready to take on the grind, but Western Michigan is quite the step up from UNLV.  He has a lot of tools and resources at his disposal to ensure success now and in the future, but he also has a lot of expectations piled upon him.
     

    The Schedule:

    Out of conference slate:

     

     

    • Week 2 vs. Michigan State
    • Week 3 at Georgia Tech
    • Week 4 vs. Oregon
    • Week 13 at BYU

     

    I'll predict a 3-1 OOC record, with the loss being a tough low-scoring one at home against Oregon.  I know BYU is the ranked opponent, but their biggest strength - that ungodly secondary* - doesn't matter as much against a team that can pound the rock repeatedly with DeSean Madison.  Michigan State is rebuilding and one-dimensional on offense, although Sparty does have some really good players - there's just a lot of youth and players playing out of position mixed in.
    Georgia Tech? They're even more one-dimensional and not as stout on defense as MSU.  That's okay though, they'll always score a... "touchdown."

     

    Conference schedule:

     

    • Week 5 at Toledo
    • Week 7 at Northern Illinois
    • Week 8 vs. Ohio
    • Week 9 vs. Ball State
    • Week 11 at Bowling Green
    • Week 12 vs. Central Michigan
    • Week 14 vs. Miami (OH)
    • Week 16 at Eastern Michigan

     

    In-conference the Broncos should be favored in the majority of their games with the exceptions being the Toledo and Ohio games as virtual coin flips.  NIU is better than last year but doesn't have the depth.  Ball State is a year too young on offense and defense and Bowling Green's safety duo is the best in the MAC but they shouldn't trouble the Broncos anywhere else. You can't sleep on CMU and those offensive skill players but their offensive line and secondary still need work, and the game is in Kalamazoo.  Best!Miami has the FLAMETHROWER ZACK CERA who should get some of his but not enough in a high-scoring bout, and EMU's overall talent level isn't there yet to knock off the Broncos (that RB Tyler Pearson though, expect great things from him).


    I'll give WMU a win at home against the Bobcats and a loss on the road to the Rockets for a 7-1 in-conference record.

     

    Final Projected Record: 10-2 (7-1)

     

    :wmu::wmu::wmu:

     

    *shh don't tell BYU about them being ungodly, I'd hate to see the secondary expelled for honor code violations

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