Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Return of Football...

Welcome back! I was going to wait until it was the week before the football season starts but I am way too anxious. Media days are done, fall practices are underway and the blog-a-sphere is whirling with the preseason predictions. Obviously, if you are a fan of the blog (and why wouldn’t you be) you know the marquee match up of the season happens on the 1st Saturday. Michigan vs. Western Michigan, Sept, 5, 2009. The Wolverines and Western square off for the first time since 2002. This is a very interesting situation for a fan of both programs. I want a win for the Broncos. However, a win for WMU is devastating for Michigan (though they are getting used to season opener losses). Also, starting the season off with a big win over U of M may be such a high for the Broncos that they may lose the hunger and falter for the remainder of the schedule. I am asking for a strong showing on both teams, that will make for and exciting, injury free game and get the momentum for both teams’ seasons rolling.

The reports coming out of Kalamazoo fall practice are promising. The receiving corps looks good, but they have not put the pads on yet. The defense is the bigger concern with only 4 seniors returning. The secondary lost a 2nd round draft pick and will need to replace more than just the skill of Louis Delmas, they need to replace his on and off field leadership. QB Tim Hiller appears fully recovered for the ACL injury suffered in early November last year, and wide out Juan Nunez appears to be ready to step in as Hiller’s target numero uno.

The reports on Michigan have been a piling on with negativity, but include a silver lining named Tate Forcier. He enrolled early, has learned the offense, and he looks like he can actually move from side to side, unlike either option under center last season. The controversies and hemorrhaging of players from the program are more off-season blog fodder than anything else in my opinion. I do not recall such a large amount of transfers in the ranks of BCS football. I have only been following the sport with a major passion for 5 or 6 years, but do not recall so many QBs transferring after not being deemed the starter. Coaches are moving after big bucks more than after opportunity to build a program with a legacy. Accompany that with a generation of kids who have been designated as football players as soon as the umbilical cord was cut, and the team hopping is almost expected. I do not see the players leaving as a sign of trouble. I see it as a sign of the times from a generation of kids that have a strong sense of entitlement. These players would rather transfer to a team where they can start rather than duking it out with an incumbent starter or a competitive peer to earn the starting position. So, while some of the leaving players may have had personality clashes with the staff or felt that they did not get recruited in to this program, I feel a lot of your skilled position departures are individuals who feel that the should be starting and they found somewhere that they can.

Anyways down form the soapbox and back on track….Michigan can only improve. The parts are being put in place, the dedicated players have been identified, and the motivation to erase last year is an intangible force.

Here is to a great season of NCAA Football!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Will WMU's Stock go up After the NFL Draft?

There are several recent Bronco's that will be watching the draft on Saturday with more than just a mild interest. Louis Delmas, E.J Biggers, Londen Fryar and Jamarko Simmons are among last year's players that could be selected this weekend. Some as early as Saturday's first round. Delmas has been tagged as a strong investment for team in need of adding to their secondary. His stock shot up after the WMU pro day and individual workouts with a few teams. This accompanied with the fact that he signed with none other than Drew Rosenhaus, for representation is ensuring he receives serious consideration. According to the Wikipedia-

"Rosenhaus represents over 100 NFL players, many of them NFL superstars, including the late Sean Taylor, Tommie Harris, Plaxico Burress, Chad Johnson, Willis McGahee, Santana Moss, Terrell Owens, Kellen Winslow Jr, Jeremy Shockey, Zach Thomas, Frank Gore, Lance Briggs and others."

Now, I am not saying his list of clients are all leaders on the role model circuit, but they do get paid!

The point of all this is simply the question of whether or not this will help Western Michigan University football in the future. The Broncos have had some recent players become successful in "The League". Greg Jennings at Green Bay is a multi year starter and has had multiple playoff appearances, Jason Babain was a first round draft pick, and Tony Scheffler is working out nicely with the other Broncos, in Denver. Have these players brought notoriety to WMU? True Western fans know these players because we have been following some of these players since we shared a campus with them. However, does this translate nationally, and more importantly to recruits?

Head Coach Bill Cubit has a nice pipeline coming out of a section of Florida that has recently brought in some very good, even if they are lower rated, recruits. Will the fact that the Broncos could have 3 to 4 players drafted as early as the 1st 5 rounds mean that kids in Texas, California, Arizona and more of Florida will be giving the Brown and Gold a second look (or perhaps a first)?

My true can't hurt but it won't have a huge impact. Western Michigan will definitely be helped if these players become extremely high profile players, which is less likely as most are defenders who will not become a name as well known as future TD makers. But, even with big name offensive players smaller schools still aren't in the bidding war with the major recruits. Case in point; L.T and TCU. The Horned Frogs are known for Tomlinson, but I have never read anything on quoting a big time recruit as having TCU in their top 5 along with the likes of USC, Texas, Florida and so on.

I am not attempting to take anything away from the program that Bill Cubit has built. I think he still deserves more credit than he has received for the consistency he has brought to the program and the players he has churned out in his short tenure. My angst comes more from the tiers that exist due to the marketing and funding the big time BCS teams have. I think that this will always overshadow the mid -majors and their successes. Nonetheless, I am looking forward to a interesting draft weekend, especially to the end of the drama that is the #1 overall pick.

Best of luck to all the Broncos that have entered the draft.


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Spring Games Give Us a Peek

Over the past weekend both Western and the Wolverines held their annual inter-squad spring games. Both teams were able to refrain from any major injury and showed the fans a great time and gave some hope to their loyal supporters.

I did not attend these games however I have watched some of the available footage on the internet. My first thought is that the September 5th match up is not going to be as close as some may have thought when the game was announced last December. The footage on Michigan shows a team that is much faster than what was on the field at Waldo Stadium that same afternoon. Of course the footage made available is limited for both teams and they are called highlights for a reason. However, Western is coming back this season without 25 of last years players that left due to graduation. The current roster is loaded with players fighting for there chance at a starting role which has been declared evident through out spring practices. The scrimmage showed a defense that didn’t quit and an offense that was able to hold off a late game surge to preserve the win. The scoring system used is slightly misleading due to it being based on points awarded for on field accomplishments and it favored the offense. Also, keep in mind WMU's offense was missing a key component in last year’s success, in Tim Hiller, who is sidelined with an ACL.

The University of Michigan, on the other hand, had a very successful day especially for the promotions department. The reported attendance was 50,000 and the locker room tours and luxury suite tours were attended by capacity crowds. The game day atmosphere was present. The offense appears to be gaining its tempo and thanks to early enrollment and a pair of contact lenses the true freshman QB Tate Forcier and WR Roy Roundtree were able to have an impressive showing.
Overall, I can’t put too much on these games. The teams are playing against themselves so any success on one side of the ball is the direct effect of a failure on the other. That being said, the Broncos will need to focus on clogging up the fast past offense that RichRod has been oiling up. Michigan has everything to lose in September. The fan base has rallied, the hope has returned and if they suffer a third season opener loss, the tone for the season could be completely changed. WMU will have a chance to be a highlight for the evening Sports Center, which is great for the program and recruiting, but a victory in Ann Arbor on the first Saturday of season has certainly lost its luster…in fact it is becoming the norm

Friday, March 27, 2009

Schedule release puts the Oh!, in ' 09 season.

Western released it's full football schedule today. The first two games are on the road at Big Ten opponents; Michigan and Indiana respectively. If WMU were playing these games last year the Broncos might have started off 2-0, and this year the odds aren't that bad either. U of M could have another season opener the ends in dead silence in the stands. Right now they are looking to run the offense with either walk- on QB Nick Sheridan( who by the way can't walk at all right now due to a lower leg fracture) or a true freshman out of San Diego in Tate Forcier.

Western has a challenge ahead of them for spring and summer. They lost a lot of seniors and the starting QB, Tim Hiller, is on the side lines recovering from ACL surgery. Coach Cubit and crew need to rebuild the receiving crew after losing 2, maybe more, future Sunday players. Along with the offense, the defense lost several potential NFL players to graduation. The silver lining here is found in the fact that the current players know they could get a starting role and are showing it in the spring work outs, according to reports on the MLive! and Western's athletics page.

Overall, the schedule is interesting. Five home games, one being Central, and another being an ESPN2 broadcast on a likely frigid Tuesday night the week of Thanksgiving. What is the over/under on attendance at that game? Thanks to the MAC for showcasing Waldo Stadium on a national broadcast with 900 people in the stands. However, from a competitive standpoint the schedule looks nice. This is primarily due to MSU late in the season and most of the better MAC teams from last year on the schedule. Unfortunately, the MSU game which was supposed to be a neutral field game at Ford Field, has been moved to Michigan State. The "economy" is what supposedly put the kibosh on a Motown show down. The scheduling of Central-Western week, and homecoming week, back to back serves to be an exciting pair of weekends for alumni searching to regain some of their more youthful days. . . and falling, figuratively and literally, embarrassingly short of said goal. There are also a few short road trip possibilities with games in East Lansing, Ypsi and Toledo.

I just got my Texas Bowl sweatshirt last week, they were on sale at WMUonline for $7.95, and I am looking forward to getting a shirt next year from a bowl that the Broncos are victorious in.


Full schedule listed below:

2009 Football Schedule
Sept. 5 at Michigan
Sept. 12 at Indiana
Sept. 19 MIAMI * (CommUniverCity Night)
Sept. 26 HOFSTRA
Oct. 3 at Northern Illinois *
Oct. 10 at Toledo *
Oct. 24 BUFFALO * (Homecoming)
Oct. 31 at Kent State *
Nov. 7 at Michigan State
Nov. 14 at Eastern Michigan*
Nov. 24 BALL STATE * (ESPN2 - 7 P.M.)
Dec. 4 Marathon MAC Championship (ESPN2 - Ford Field - 8 p.m.)
* Conference Game