#50 Western Michigan Football 2016 Preview

Western Michigan Broncos
Overall Rank: #50
#1 Mid-American
Western Michigan had a chance to win the MAC West, but losses against Bowling Green and Northern Illinois put an end to any of those hopes. But a 6-2 season in the MAC is a great stepping stone and so is winning the programs first ever bowl, a 45-31 victory over Middle Tennessee in the Bahamas Bowl. The Broncos are ready to take the next step and reach the MAC championship game.
2015 Record: 8-5, 6-2
2015 Bowl: Bahamas Bowl vs. Middle Tennessee (W 45-31)
Coach: P.J. Fleck (17-21 at Western Michigan, 17-21 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Kirk Ciarrocca
Defensive Coordinator: Ed Pinkham
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Jamauri Bogan, RB, 1,051 yards
Passing: Zach Terrell, QB, 3,510 yards
Receiving: Corey Davis, WR, 1,436 yards
Tackles: Asantay Brown, LB, 103
Sacks: Keion Adams, DE, 5.5
Interceptions: Darius Phillips, CB, 5
Other Key Returnees: RB Jarvion Franklin, RB LeVante Bellamy, WR Michael Henry, OL Taylor Morton, LB Caleb Bailey, LB Robert Spillane
Key Losses: WR Daniel Braverman, OL Willie Beavers, LB Austin Lewis, CB Ronald Zamort, S Rontavious Atkins, DT Cleveland Smith
The WMU offense has been extremely potent the last couple of years and this should be the best yet. Quarterback Zach Terrell threw for 3,526 yards and 29 touchdowns last season. Those numbers are impressive, but Terrell also completed 67.0 percent of passes and threw just nine interceptions. That is even more impressive. Receiver Daniel Braverman, who caught 108 passes for 1,371 yards and 13 scores is gone, but Corey Davis is back after catching 90 passes for 1,436 yards and a dozen touchdowns. Davis is the big play receiver, but Western Michigan does need to find a possession receiver or two. Seniors Michael Henry and Carrington Thompson and sophomore LeVante Bellamy should be ready to step up. The passing offense garners a lot of attention, but the Broncos are just as dangerous on the ground. Jamauri Bogan had an absolutely amazing freshman campaign, rushing for 1,051 yards and 16 touchdowns. Jarvion Franklin had an equally impressive freshman campaign two years ago, rushing for 1,551 yards and 24 touchdowns. Franklin took a bit of a backseat to Bogan last year and tallied just 735 yards and five scores on the ground. But the point is that Western Michigan has two very dominating backs.
For the most part, it was the defense that let down WMU during their losses to Bowling Green and Northern Illinois last year. Coach PJ Fleck should have the talent and depth to avoid some of those big plays. But there are concerns on defense. Keion Adams and David Curle anchor a decent front line. Adams was the only player on the team last year who consistently made plays in the backfield and he will need some help if the Broncos defense is going to get better. Linebacker Robert Spillane will move to the middle linebacker spot after tallying 46 tackles on the outside in 2015. He is ready for a big year. The secondary is led by safety Asantay Brown, the team’s leader in tackles in 2015. Darius Phillips is turning into a very good cornerback, but the Broncos will have to rely on youth and inexperience to fill in at the other spots in the secondary.
The Bottom Line:
Northern Illinois and Toledo will join Western Michigan as the top teams in the MAC. The strength is in the West this year and those three will battle it out for a trip to the MAC Championship game. The good news for the Broncos is that both the Huskies and the Rockets have to come to Waldo Stadium. Northern Illinois visits on October 8th and the season concludes on November 25th when Toledo comes to town. Those two games will likely decide who wins the MAC West and getting both of them at home is a big deal. So is avoiding Bowling Green and Ohio from the East. With that schedule and the amount of talent Western Michigan has on offense, this is the year for the Broncos to claim a conference crown.
Projected Bowl: GoDaddy Bowl
2015 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 204.6 (29th in nation, 2nd in conference)
Passing Offense: 286.2 (26, 3)
Total Offense: 490.8 (17, 2)
Scoring Offense: 36.0 (26, 2)
Rushing Defense: 181.1 (76, 8)
Pass Defense: 232.6 (72, 6)
Total Defense: 413.7 (82, 8)
Scoring Defense: 28.3 (79, 8)
Turnover Margin: 0.08 (61, 8)
Sacks: 1.38 (109, 11)
Sacks Allowed: 2.38 (82, 11)
Madness 2017 NFL Draft Rankings:
#32 Corey Davis