SI.com 2003 College Football Preview




SI.com's College Football Team Previews - from Athlon Sports

  Western Michigan Broncos

 
The Lowdown
Coach: Gary Darnell (7th year, 40-29)
2002 record: 4-8
MAC finish: 5th (West)
2002 offensive stats:
Rush: 107.3 ypg
(13th in MAC, 103rd in nation)
Pass: 256.1 ypg (5th, 30th)
2002 defensive stats:
Rush: 151.2 ypg (6th, 54th)
Pass: 179.5 ypg (2nd, 21st)
Projected Starters
Offense (4 returning starters in bold)
WR  83  Tyrone Walker  Jr. 
WR   7   Antonio Thomas   Sr.  
WR  Kendrick Mosley  Sr. 
LT  76  Walter Stith  So. 
LG   79   Kyle Ras   Jr.  
54  Charles Missant  Sr. 
RG  61  Mark Ottney  So. 
RT  65  Chad Wangerin  Sr. 
TE  82  Anthony Kiner  Sr. 
QB   11   Chad Munson   Sr.  
RB   38   Philip Reed   Sr.  
Defense (4)
DE  59  Jack Gitler  Jr. 
DT  92  Hausia Faleofa  Sr. 
NG  99  Jon Jones  Sr. 
DE   93   Jason Babin   Sr.  
LB  34  Willie Miller  Jr. 
LB  45  Josh Behrens  So. 
CB   21   Tony Carr   Jr.  
CB  28  Willie Pope  Jr. 
WS   40   Jason Feldpausch   Sr.  
FS  Kevin Ford  So. 
SS   25   Scott Robinson   Jr.  
Special Teams
17  Robert Menchinger  Jr. 
39  Adam Anderson  Jr. 
KR  83  Tyrone Walker  Jr. 
PR  Kendrick Mosley  Sr. 
2003 Schedule
Aug. 30  at Michigan State 
Sept. 6  William & Mary 
Sept. 13  Virginia 
Sept. 27  at Ohio 
Oct. 4  at Eastern Michigan 
Oct. 11  Bowling Green 
Oct. 18  at Northern Illinois 
Oct. 25  Marshall 
Nov. 1  at Connecticut 
Nov. 8  Ball State 
Nov. 15  Central Michigan 
Nov. 22  at Toledo 
Former Western Michigan linebacker Matt Cappotelli proved himself Tough Enough on the MTV series that pits contestants against each other for a shot at a WWE developmental contract.

The Bronco football team hopes to duplicate Cappotelli's success. It won't be easy.

Following a 2002 schedule that included road trips to Michigan and Purdue and a home game against Virginia Tech, WMU has assembled another brutal non-conference slate.

Coach Gary Darnell isn't deterred. "The reality of it is, if it wasn't for last year, this would be the toughest schedule in the history of the school," he said. "But this is who we are. We play tough teams and we look forward to it."

OFFENSIVE KEYS:

Senior quarterback Chad Munson took over starting duties in week six last year and proved to be a gamer with a 328-yard, highlight-filled performance against nationally ranked Bowling Green. His 17 interceptions notwithstanding, Munson has a firm grasp on the starting position.

Munson will have plenty of options at receiver. Kendrick Mosley is the go-to guy, but Antonio Thomas corralled a team-high 45 passes last season. Senior Chris Chestnut averaged 14.6 yards per catch.

Running back Philip Reed rushed for 1,053 yards as a junior last year to become the fifth Bronco to top the 1,000-yard mark in the past six seasons. He'll be asked to do the same this season. Trovon Riley and Daniel Marks offer good depth at the position. Riley ran for two touchdowns and 109 yards against Central Michigan in the season finale.

The biggest question is up front. With just one starting lineman -- guard Kyle Ras -- returning, this could be WMU's Achilles' heel.

DEFENSIVE KEYS:

WMU finished No. 1 in the MAC in total defense in 2002, a feat that could be repeated. After earning All-America honors last fall, defensive end Jason Babin will face double teams all season long. Athletic and strong, Babin totaled 15 sacks and 26 tackles-for-a-loss last season. He's the anchor on this defense. But he'll have trouble making up for a thin linebacking corps that was hit hard by the loss of starters Bryan Lape and Jason Malloy. The Broncos will be relying on two players who have been bothered by injuries -- Willie Miller and Josh Behrens. Miller missed all but three games with a knee injury, while Behrens recorded 26 tackles in a reserve role last fall. Behrens did not participate in spring practice.

The secondary will be led by Jason Feldpausch, a former walk-on who was named team MVP last season.

SPECIAL TEAMS:

With only a new punter to break in, WMU should have one of the top special teams units in the MAC. Mosley will be back to handle punts after ranking second in the league with a 15.2-yard average in 2002. Junior receiver Tyrone Walker averaged 32.8 yards on 13 kickoff returns and brought back two for touchdowns.

Kicker Robert Menchinger, who hit 7-of-9 field goal attempts and all 12 extra points, returns. Punter Adam Anderson takes over on a full-time basis after averaging 35.5 yards on 21 kicks in 2002.

FINAL ANALYSIS:

Darnell believes his team has the tools to compete for a MAC title this fall. "I feel a good, strong sense that the team concept is back to Bronco quality," Darnell said.

WMU once again will be solid defensively after finishing with the top-ranked unit in the MAC last fall. If the Broncos are to compete for a winning record and a conference crown, the offensive prowess shown by the 1999 and 2000 MAC West Division title teams will have to return.

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