KALAMAZOO, MI(WKZO)-- With a day to marinate on Western Michigan's 38-7 victory over Nicholls State, we take a look back at what the Broncos did and what they will need to do to come out victrious vs Central Michigan this Saturday.
Continue running the ball. Last week vs Nicholls State, the Broncos ran the ball for over 200 yards. What stood out the most though was the way it was done. Western Michigan has multiple running backs at it's disposal which allows them to run the ball with different styles. They can pound you with Tevin Drake or they can make the quick off tackle runs with the likes of Brian Fields. Last week, Drake ran for 86 yards on 10 carries and Fields ran for two touchdowns. It will be important for the Broncos to get a similar running game going vs. CMU to open up the passing lanes for Alex Carder.
Give Alex Carder time to throw. Through the first two games of the season, its clear that the area that needs the most attention will be our offensive line. They've done a decent job so far considering all the things they've encountered with injuries and position switches. The offensive line will be key this week, without them doing their job well, it will be hard for Carder to throw the ball. It starts and ends with them, if they can hold down the fort, big things are possible for the offense this week.
Win the turnover battle. Week one, the Broncos were -3 in the turnover category and they were +1 last week vs Nicholls with a few turnovers coming after the game was already in hand. Turnovers of any kind this week will cost them a lot more. Last year the Broncos fumbled the ball vs Central four times, losing all of them. Central Michigan is a tough, physically sound team who looks to strip the ball any chance they get. Ball control is key this week.
Clamp down on defense. In a game like this, the Broncos have to show up on defense as well as on offense. Through the first two games, Central Michigan has yet to rush for over 100 yards. The Broncos have to make sure to get pressure from their defensive line to make Central one dimensional then take care of the receivers. No allowing CMU receivers to have big gains and we must get off the field on third downs. Against South Carolina State, CMU went 3-14 on third downs and vs Kentucky, they went 7-18. Last year vs the Broncos, they were 3-12. WMU must continue to make CMU punt the ball.
Make big plays on special teams. Dervon Wallace is huge for the Broncos. He had 188 yards in kickoff returns vs Michigan and 83 yards vs Nicholls State. More than a few of those returns had the potential to be touchdowns but were stopped by shoe string tackles. Its Central week. None of that. If Wallace or anyone else gets a chance to take one to the house, they have to take advantage of it. Gaining yards and good field position is great but this would be a great week for Western to take one to the house.
FINISH. Last year vs CMU, the Broncos had a nine point lead going into the fourth quarter, only to watch it slip away. That cannot happen again. If the Broncos get a lead, the defense needs to hold on to it and the offense needs to build upon it. Its that simple. It wont be easy by any means but it can be done. The Broncos have to stay focused for every bit of four quarters and get the victory.
No matter how you look at it, this is a huge game for both teams. If WMU can do these things, they can end their losing streak to CMU this Saturday and propel themselves to great heights. One game at a time. It starts this week. Go Broncos.