At the beginning of the 2010 football season, one of the biggest question facing the Bronco football team was how would Alex Carder perform after replacing Tim Hiller at the quarterback position? Fast forward to 2012 and now the question is who goes down as the better quarterback in Bronco history, Carder or Hiller?
As of right now Hiller has the edge, but after what Carder did last year, in 5 months from now that might not be the case.
During the 2011 season Carder not only broke the WMU record for passing yards in a game, he did it twice. He did it first against UConn with 478 yards, then broke his own record a few weeks later with 548 yards against Toledo. He also set a WMU and MAC record with 7 touchdown passes against Toledo.
The numbers Carder put up in 2011 were impressive and people are starting to take notice. Carder has already been named to four preseason watch list including the Davey O’Brien Award for the best quarterback in college football, the Walter Camp Player of the Year Award, the All State Sugar Bowl's Manning Award and most recently the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award.
And while the records, preseason award lists, and being mentioned in the same sentence as Hiller are nice, Carder has something else on his mind, becoming the first WMU quarterback to lead his team to a MAC Championship in 24 years.
“I didn’t think a whole lot about becoming the greatest quarterback in WMU history”, Carder said. “Living up to Tim’s expectations is something I’ve been trying to do since I’ve been a starter here. Just to be in the same conversation as him is an honor. But I’d like to be the first Bronco quarterback to win a MAC Title in the 21st century.”
A MAC Title would put the debate into Carder’s favor, however the hope now for Western is that Carder doesn’t fall off the same way Hiller did during his senior season. Hiller still had a good senior year but his numbers and team record declined from his junior season. However, head coach Bill Cubit doesn’t see history repeating itself with Carder’s senior year.
“Tim was a great player but sometimes you try to do much”, Coach Cubit said. “Alex has more weapons around him and a better defense, so I don’t see that happen, I only see him getting better.”
However, questions do still surround the Shawnee, Kansas native. Carder has been blessed with some amazing talent at the wide receiver position during his first two seasons as the Broncos starting QB. But gone from last year’s team are the Broncos top three wide receivers Jordan White, Chleb Ravenell and Robert Arnheim. The trio combined for 269 receptions, 3452 yards and 30 touchdowns. Eric Monette, Josh Shaffer, and JuCo transfer Darrin Duncan most likely will be the top three receivers on the 2012 team, but they have nowhere near the talent as White, Ravenell and Arnheim.
Carder also had issues last year where he would make throws that left you scratching your head as to what was he thinking, especially when it came to closing out games. He made poor decisions in losses against Illinois, Eastern Michigan, Toledo and in the Little Caesar’s Bowl against Purdue that potentially cost the team victories.
So the main question will be is Carder this good or was he the product of having great wide receivers? Only time will tell. However, if Carder does struggle the Broncos have a potential future star in waiting.
Junior Tyler VanTubbergen almost transferred after his freshman year and how could you blame him? He knew that unless Carder got injured his chances of seeing the playing field would be limited to garbage time at the end of games. After speaking with Coach Bill Cubit VanTubbergen decided to stick around Kalamazoo and wait for his opportunity. And in the final regular season game of the year his chance finally came.
Not only did VanTubbergen complete 19 of 21 passes, he also threw for six touchdown passes as the Broncos crushed Akron 68-19. Not too bad for a guy who had only attempted 28 passes in two seasons prior.
While it’s easy to look at the numbers VanTubbergen put up against Akron and be very impressed, don’t get it confused, there is no QB controversy at WMU.
“Unless Alex gets hurt or really screws up he’s the starter, but we know we have a great breakup (VanTubbergen) that could play for a lot of teams”, Coach Cubit said.
Behind Carder and VanTubbergen on the depth chart there are some more young impressive arms. Redshirt junior Zach Wynn will most likely be the 3rd QB and incoming freshmen Anthony Maddie and Zach Terrell will be redshirted.
“Maddie and Terrell have ability”, Cubit said. “They can do a lot of different things. Zach looked really comfortable out there on during the first day of practice. Anthony’s talent is a little bit different. If we played Anthony we would be a lot of different things.”