2009 Western Michigan Broncos Football Preview
2008 Record: (9-4, 6-2)
2008 Bowl: Texas Bowl vs. Rice (L 14-38)
Coach: Bill Cubit (29-20 at Western Michigan, 63-38-1 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Bill Cubit
Defensive Coordinator: Steve Morrison
Other Key Returnees: P Ben Armer, DT Cody Cielenski, G Nick Clemens, OT Anthony Parker, K John Potter, G Phillip Swanson, C Paul Wasikowski, LB Mitch Zajac
Key Losses: CB E.J. Biggers, DE Zach Davidson, S Louis Delmas, DT Cory Flom, CB Londen Fryar, OT Rob Johnson, WR Schneider Julien, TE Branden Ledbetter, LB Boston McCornell, WR Jamarko Simmons, DT Nick Varcadipane, S C.J. Wilson
There is no shame in losing on the road to Nebraska, Central Michigan and Ball State, but the 2008 season could have been a very special one in Kalamazoo. Instead, the Broncos ended up getting annihilated by Rice in the Texas Bowl and wondering about what could have been. And now the defense pretty much has to start from scratch.
Western Michigan's Strengths:
Yet, while the defense retools, the offense should be very good. Quarterback Tim Hiller led the Mid-American Conference’s best passing attack by throwing for 3,725 yards and 36 touchdowns. The problem is his best two receivers are now gone. Jamarko Simmons and Schneider Julien accounted for 1,988 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns. Tight end Branden Ledbetter added 464 yards and six scores and now he is gone too. Juan Nunez should be a fine top target, but the Broncos will have to find a few more to go along with Nunez. In the meantime, WMU can rely on the ground game. Brandon West rushed for over 1,000 yards and made 11 total trips to the end zone. With an experienced line returning, the offense should be dynamic, and maybe even a little more balanced, during the 2009 campaign.
Western Michigan's Weaknesses:
There was no reason for this defense to give up nearly 400 yards per game. It was a senior laden group who sported some NFL caliber players like Louis Delmas. The secondary should have been one of the best in the MAC with C.J. Wilson, E.J. Biggers and Londen Fryar joining Delmas. Instead, the unit ranked 12 th in the conference in pass defense. Now those four are gone and it is hard to believe the unit will be better with Mario Armstrong, Doug Wiggins, Andy Dorcely and David Lewis than they were with four experienced seniors. The rest of the defense is not quite so hurt by departures, but there are still holes to fill. Linebacker Austin Pritchard is ready to emerge as the leader of the defense, but it is the play of the front four that will determine how successful the defense is this year.
The Bottom Line for the Broncos:
And the Broncos have two quality players to build around up front. End Justin Braska led the team with 6.0 sacks a year ago and tackle Cody Cielenski was second with 4.0. Those two will spend some time in the opposing backfield, but it will be important that the team finds a couple other linemen who can step into a starting role. And at the moment that looks like it is going to be redshirt freshman Freddie Bishop and sophomore Drew Nowak.
By Joel Welser
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