Thursday, August 21, 2008

Thoughts from Thursday's WMU football scrimmage: A few new playmakers in the mix
Posted by Graham Couch Kalamazoo Gazette blog August 14, 2008 23:27PM
Broncos Football

KALAMAZOO -- Preseason scrimmages aren't very useful for getting a feel for a team as a whole. That's not the point of them, at least under Western Michigan coach Bill Cubit.
I mean, we all know what Jamarko Simmons is capable of doing. Same goes for Brandon West and Louis Delmas, etc.
What was learned at Thursday's scrimmage is that WMU has a few playmakers it didn't a year ago.
First, freshman running backs Jamie Simpson and Aaron Winchester are ready to contribute. Simpson, down from 237 in high school to about 220, is strong, fast enough and a fluid runner. He finished with eight carries for 31 yards and a 7-yard touchdown and seems to have a knack for finding the crease and adding to it.
Winchester is very quick and has good instincts in the open field. He's also a more powerful runner than his 5-foot-6, 190-pound frame would suggest (he's not even close to 5-9, as he's listed). He rushed five times for 41 yards and, like Simpson, looks ready for this level. Both players have been solid in pass protection, Cubit said, which is usually an issue for freshman running backs. In practice, I've seen Winchester stick pass rushers with quite a bit of oomph.
Winchester was wrapped up by reserve safety Vernon Stewart while trying to juke Stewart on the outside. He'll learn that he can't dance as much in Division I as he could in high school.
Dervon Wallace also looked good -- and fast. His wheel-around and sprint to the end zone on a 36-yard TD catch showed a knack for the big play. And with Deshon Lawrence yet to take control of the fifth receiver position, the former defensive back (he made the move this week) may be the guy, if he can master enough of the offense in the next two weeks.
Former linebacker Anthony Williams appears to be a find at tight end -- look for a feature on Williams in the Gazette and at in the next few days.
Williams had two catches for 16 yards Thursday, including a 12-yard gain on third-and-12 where he didn't give up on the play even as quarterback Robert Arnheim had to step up from the pocket. Williams is going to play a ton and WMU is fortunate that this has worked out so well. After Branden Ledbetter and Matt Stevens, the Broncos were in search of another productive tight end.
As for the quarterbacks, and the battle for the backup job, that's addressed in this story.
To me, both did what they do well: Drew Burdi has the better arm and the best deep ball of any of the QBs; Robert Arnheim makes things happen when things break down.
We might know more after next Tuesday's scrimmage.
Lastly, redshirt freshman punter Ben Armer is a weapon. This kid booted kicks of 50, 58, 24, 52, 42 and 46 yards Tuesday.
As for kicker John Potter (I finally saw him kick Wednesday -- and Thursday), the leg is there and so's the accuracy from short range. And, I think once he settles in, he'll be consistent from 40 and beyond, too. He's already an upgrade from last season in all facets.
Tags: Aaron Winchester, Anthony Williams, Dervon Wallace, Drew Burdi, Jamie Simpson, Robert Arnheim


I H8 Mr. W. said...

Michigan Sucks James.

How does a team that
a.)won a paltry couple of games in the little eleven
b.)lost to a division II school
c.) Lose all of its leadership
d.) Have a new coach
e.) install a new system
f.) Have no QB. (way to go Pryor!)

...still make the top 25? They weren't in the AP poll at the end of the season.

The preseason rankings are at the core of what sucks about the college football system.

Mr. W. said...

The only Top 25 appearance U of M has right now is in the USA Today Poll. Which shouldn't even be a poll anymore after wimping out and deciding they did not want to be responsible for picking the teams for the NCS game two years ago. If the Big Ten is such a watered down conference explain the reasoning behind OSU getting picked # 2 or 3 in most polls. Whose our favorite iH8?

Thanks you for your comments and participation.

Mr. W. said...

Mr. ih8 mr. w. Please read the post titled "AP Rankings Released" I feel this will show you not only do I admit my Bais but that I am level headed and realize the weakness of one of my favorite teams.