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2020 Mid-American Conference Football Season Preview: Western Michigan Broncos

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Western Michigan looks to hold its ground in the MAC West after losing a load of senior talent.

NCAA Football: Syracuse at Western Michigan Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The three years following Western Michigan’s climactic 2016棉花碗season can best be described as average. While the Broncos continue to field a respectable football team year after year, the magic that emanated within the program from that 2016 season fizzles away with each passing 6-loss season.

In all three go-arounds of the Tim Lester era, the Broncos have flirted with a .500 record while still awaiting their return to the MAC Championship. But not all is dreary within the confines of Kalamazoo — Western Michigan has been a consistently solid program in the conference during Lester’s tenure. The Broncos have compiled a 14-10 record in league play since 2017 and have not suffered through a single losing season since the BCS era.

A load of senior talent has departed from the team, but in this shortened season where anything is on the table, Western Michigan aims to reshuffle its cards break out of adequacy. In a wide open MAC West with six realistic contenders, a spot on the mountaintop waits to be inhabited.


关键亏损

西密歇根被抓住可能发生困难duating seniors more than any other program in the conference. The Broncos were a veteran-led team in 2019, headlined by MAC Offensive Player of the Year recipient LeVante Bellamy. The running back with sub 4.30 40-yard dash speed was the focal point of the Broncos offense a season ago. Bellamy tied for the lead in FBS rushing touchdowns and ranked 10th in the country in rushing yards in his dominant final run in Kalamazoo.

Also departed from the program is three-year starting quarterback Jon Wassink. After two injury-shortened seasons, Wassink finally enjoyed a season where he started all 13 games for the Broncos. While healthy, he performed in the upper-tier of MAC quarterbacks, firing 50 touchdowns to just 18 interceptions on a 61.1 percent completion rate. Wassink passed for over 3,000 yards as a senior and added over 300 on the ground, and Western Michigan must replace that production this season.

Tight endGiovanni Ricciis another key cog on offense the team will miss greatly. As a top 10 finisher in receptions, yards, and touchdowns among tight ends last year, Ricci was a reliable threat in short yardage and red zone situations. Another one of Wassink’s notable targets,Keith Mixon Jr.-团队的主要专家返回2019 - has also graduated onto newer waters. Lastly, center Luka Juriga chalked up three All-MAC selections as the Broncos’ top offensive lineman last season. After four seasons as a starter, Juriga was one of the final inklings of the P.J. Fleck era, and his departure signals how well-acquainted Western Michigan is into the Lester’s tenure.

Defensively, Western Michigan lost its second and third leading tacklers from last year. Outside linebackerDrake Spearsand strong safetyJustin Tranquillboth registered over 80 tackles and two interceptions as seniors, and the Broncos will have to fill those voids with talented hitters going forward.


罪行

Wassink的继任者将是Redshirt Sophomore四分卫Kaleb Eleby。Eleby在2019年在2018年享有丰富的比赛行动作为真正的新生。他在2019年出现单一的外观。他两年前开始四场比赛,包括西密歇根州着名的爱达荷州土豆碗损失。Eleby没有测试深球,但他是一个非常准确的四分卫,关于倾斜的路线和反症系统,完成近63%的尝试。

他五个郊游的职业编号包括四个达阵和三个拦截。除了提高触控到拦截率之外,埃莱比的一个区域将寻求改善,因为全日制起动器是移动性。即使有三个职业生涯冲击达阵,他仍然是由于船舶船袋而作为Bronco的净负面的全部。没有Bellamy和Wassink在名册上,西部密歇根州都需要从2019年取代其成功的跑步游戏的重要部分。

后场将包括两个跑步争夺起点。一个是二年级学生Sean Tyler, who rose to prominence after posting 138 rushing yards and two touchdowns on the Georgia State defense last September — in only six attempts. With Bellamy remaining relatively healthy andDavon Tucker作为次要的背部加紧,泰勒没有太多的切换。在一次,他在17次携带的17次上收到了10个以上,而是对保龄球的表现为85码,但他的数字应该在2020年放大。

大学橄榄球:9月21日在Syrac西密歇根use Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Also in the backfield is Nevada graduate transfer Jaxson Kincaide. He starred for the Wolf Pack as a freshman in 2016 with 334 rushing yards and three touchdowns, but his production dwindled once Jay Norvell took over the following year. After taking a redshirt last fall, Kincaide hopes to get back on track after transitioning from theMountain Westto the MAC.

While Western Michigan’s offense lost Mixon and Ricci from the tight end spot, the majority of its receiving group returns for 2020, and the wide receiver room should rival Central Michigan and Miami (OH) for the best in the conference.Skyy Moorelanded a First Team All-MAC appearance as a freshman, becoming the first Bronco to attain that honor sinceCorey Davis.。他在52张接待处收到了804米,建立了自己作为Biletnikoff奖项列表名单候选人进入2020年。摩尔排队与大二世菲尔联系DaShon BussellandCorey Crooms(39 combined receptions in 2019) and junior杰伦大厅in a young, but experienced receiving corps.

Additionally, expect a comeback campaign fromd'wayne eskridge在宽接收器。Eskridge是2016年棉花碗队的少数残余之一,但他在2019年翻了一转职位。虽然他继续排队进攻抢购,但他专注于他的起角返回角色。去年9月埃斯克里奇遭遇了赛季结束的锁骨伤害,同时在深球作为一个接收器拖运,他在2018年每次接待的20.4码次为20.4码的团队高776码。

The passing game should receive a considerable boost from a protection standpoint when looking at the left side of the offensive line. Two Second Team All-MAC selections man the trenches, left tackleJaylon Moore并留下了迈克加利福。在替换jurga的中心,西部密歇根州将把韦斯利法国转移到防守线路回到攻击线并承担起始角色。全部五项预计的密歇根州林门是雷峰前辈,所以这秋季的5人单位不应缺乏熟悉的系统。


Defense

西部密歇根州展示了2019年会议的最佳防御之一,并在会议中的第二次评分辩护和Mac西部的顶部,每场比赛只需25.9分。除了球状态之外,每场比赛中专门从事外卖的支柱,比每一支球队录得更多的失误。

Not only did Western Michigan’s 2019 roster feature the MAC Offensive Player of the Year, but the Broncos held that honor on the defensive side as well. MIKE linebackerTreshaun Hayward是一个托架机器。作为一个初级和他的第一个全年作为一个起动器,海沃德将自己设立为全国首屈一指的逃亡者之一。通过收集142个球载体,他总共在FBS中排名第三。他的11个损失的铲球也在Mac中的前10位等级中站立。上赛季,海沃德在12场比赛中记录了七个或更多的铲球,最大限度地击败了一个18个职能的一天,在他的ypsilanti,mi的家乡东部密歇根州。

海沃德捆绑防守结束Ali Fayadand defensive tackle拉尔夫·罗利为球队领先于4.5的麻袋。Fayad和Holley回到了Broncos经验丰富的防守线路。就像海沃德一样享受了上秋季的突破赛季,这一类别的新兴候选人是防守终端和克特雷卡特。在只有九场比赛中,卡特设法录制了四袋和七个铲球损失。随着福田,龙和卡特的三人,霍利和卡特一年多以前返回了13.5份袋子,西密歇根州西方密歇根州是一个逼真的威胁,让Mac West的顶级通过了一次。

Western Michigan may have a veteran defensive line, but there is youth on either side of Hayward in the linebacking corps. Outside linebackerZaire Barneswas a projected starter,但他会想念膝盖伤害的季节。Seth Berry of The Western Herald reports that the Broncos will transition strong safetyA.J. Thomasto SAM linebacker in response to Barnes’ injury.Corvin Momentstarted 12 games in 2018, missed the majority of 2019, and played in the First Responder Bowl last December. He’ll be in the mix to claim the other linebacker spot to complete the trio.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 08 Western Michigan at Michigan 照片由斯科特W.Grau / Icon Sportswire通过Getty Images

With Thomas moving away from safety, the Broncos will nearly experience a complete overhaul in the starting secondary. Cornerback Patrick Lupro finished first in interceptions and pass breakups a year ago, as well as fifth in tackles, and the junior will be tasked with guarding some of the best receivers in the conference. To add depth to the rest of the secondary, Western Michigan received a nice boost from the grad transfer market from the Steel City. Former Pitt Panthers cornerbackTherran Coleman安全Brice Garner都搬到了西部到卡拉马祖来完成他们的大学职业。

And don’t forget the Paul Hornung Award watchlist candidate, which is rewarded to the most versatile player in the nation. D’Wayne Eskridge has four games of starting experience at cornerback and his versatility will allow him to effectively swap back-and-forth between the two units in his senior season.


Special teams

Western Michigan didn’t fancy field goal kicking last year. The Broncos’ aversion to kicking was great enough to the point where they elected to go for a 4th and 3 with 31 seconds remaining in the First Responder Bowl, in opposition to kicking a 47-yard field goal. Yes, unfavorable wind was a factor, but after Western Michigan missed the 4th down conversion, WKU kicked the game-winning field goal on the other side — leaving questions of what-if. Special teams directly changed the outcome of Western Michigan’s 2019 season, and the Broncos must gain more trust in the unit going forward.

使用两个不同的踢球者(Thiago KappsandGavin Peddie), Western Michigan converted on 10-of-17 field goals (58.8%) last fall. From 40+ yards out, the Broncos finished 1-of-4 with the longest kick standing at 45 yards. Kapps handled most kicking duties by sinking 10-of-15, but Peddie is also 10-of-15 in his Bronco career. There is an ongoing kicker competition between the two, but the starting punter remains unquestionable.尼克·米哈里奇启动了50多个院子平底船的公平份额作为大二的大学,在过去的四个郊游中,三个平底船或伟大的平台连接。


Western Michigan schedule

  • Wed, Nov. 4:Western Michigan at Akron
  • 11月11日星期三:托莱多西部密歇根州
  • Wed, Nov. 18:密歇根州西部密歇根州
  • 11月28日星期六:Northern Illinois at Western Michigan
  • Sat, Dec. 5:密歇根州西部的密歇根州
  • Sat, Dec. 12:Western Michigan at Ball State
  • Fri, Dec. 18:MAC Championship Game at Ford Field in Detroit, MI

Season prediction

Every MAC West team seems destined to finish between 2-4 and 4-2 this season due to the sheer parity which exists within the division.

Western Michigan enters without the comfort of its starting quarterback and starting running back from the past few years, so the new-look offense will have a growing phase. Luckily, having a deep playmaking group of wide receivers increases the home-run play potential of the offense. Defensively, the Broncos should have no problem controlling the line of scrimmage with a powerful group of defensive linemen and tackling machine Treshaun Hayward. Some of the larger question marks linger in the secondary and in the kicking game, and those will be interesting areas to watch develop.

The great news for Western Michigan is that it drew Akron during the opening week, which features each team’s sole divisional crossover matchup. The Zips have lost 17 consecutive matchups and can be the perfect tune-up opponent for the Broncos to get settled into 2020. Everything else on the schedule is essentially a toss-up. A 3-3 record seems realistic for Western Michigan this season, and the team will sit on pins and needles in December to see if there are enough bowl games in operation for a postseason selection.