2015-16 Football Previews – (MAC) – Broncos
Kalamazoo is a place often referred to as a metaphor for somewhere out of the way, off the beaten track. Yet thanks to Western Michigan University, it’s also a place where some solid mid-major college football is being played.
NCAA Football Gambling Lines
MAC Conference Odds
Head Coach: P.J. Fleck
2014 Record: 8-5
Western Michigan Odds to Win 2015 MAC Championship: +475
Odds from Bovada: Bet the field
Western Michigan returns plenty of talent from last year’s 8-5 squad. With Toledo and Northern Illinois also in the mix, the MAC West division is a top-heavy group of strong teams, but WMU can count itself among them.
The 2015 version of the Broncos may wind up in the paradoxical position of being a more talented squad that wins less, thanks to a brutal schedule. Yet games aren’t played on paper, and thanks to solid contributors on both sides of the ball, WMU has the horses (pardon the bad pun) to run with any other team in the conference.
With that in mind, let’s check out the strengths and weaknesses of the 2015 Western Michigan Broncos.
The Broncos bring some playmakers to the table, headlined by junior WR Corey Davis, a 6″3, 205-lb talent with the NFL likely in his future, sophomore RB Jarvion Franklin and speedy return man Darius Phillips. All three of these guys can put six on the board with one touch of the football. The triumvirate will be central to Western Michigan’s scoring capabilities in 2015.
After these guys, nine starters return from an offense that ranked second in MAC a year ago. Davis didn’t even lead the team in receiving in ’14, that distinction goes to Daniel Braverman, who made 86 grabs for just shy of 1,000 yards (997). Franklin rumbled into the endzone 24 times (fourth-best in the nation) and it’ll all be orchestrated by returning starting QB Zach Terrell.
The O-line is experienced, but new starting sophomore OT Chukwuma Okorafor might be the best of the bunch. High praise, considering the line features two all-MAC talents in Willie Beavers and James Kristof.
Special teams is in good hands with All-MAC K Andrew Haldeman, punter J. Schroeder and return man Derrick Mitchell, a 28-year old former MLB prospect.
There are a few cracks to paper over on defense. Senior MLB Grant DePalma is excellent (102 tackles in 2014), but apart from him, the Broncos must replace all-conference DBs in Justin Currie and Donald Celiscar, and NT Richard Ash, who transferred from Michigan.
Several players that haven’t seen much playing time will be relied on to play a role on “D” in 2015. Dangerous special teams man CB Darius Phillips and FS Asantay Brown are two of them, though they’ll have seniors Ronald Zamort and SS Rontavious Atkins to help them along.
Western Michigan will likely break in a freshman at center in John Keenoy.
Head coach P.J. Fleck is only 34 years old, which can be both a blessing and a curse.
2015-16 Western Michigan Broncos Prediction: 7-5
The Broncos certainly have a difficult schedule this year. They start the season against Michigan State and also have a road date at The Horseshoe, versus Ohio State in September. WMU draws Bowling Green in the other division and have their usual tough customers, with road games at Northern Illinois and Toledo to finish out the year.
Ultimately, Western Michigan is a talented outfit and I could see them winning anywhere from six to nine games.
2015 Broncos Schedule (All times EST)
9/4/15 7:00 PM MSU
9/12/15 6:00 PM @GA. SOUTH.
9/19/15 7:00 PM MURR. ST.
9/26/15 TBD @OSU
10/10/15 TBD CMU
10/17/15 TBD @OHIO
10/24/15 2:00 PM MIA (OH)
10/29/15 7:30 PM @EMU
11/5/15 7:30 PM BALL ST.
11/11/15 8:00 PM BGSU
11/18/15 8:00 PM @N. ILL.
11/27/15 TBD @TOL
12/4/15 TBD MAC CHAMP. (in Detroit, MI)
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