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WMU Bronco football gallops through difficult season

Carter Landis, Sports Editor

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Shifting the paradigm from the spirited P.J. Fleck, a coach who brought Western Michigan’s football team to prominence and leaving in the same year, has probably been the hardest thing Bronco fans have had to do. Not to mention that this coaching change came alongside also losing who could be the team’s best quarterback in program history, Zach Terrell, and Corey Davis, the NCAA’s all time leading receiver, a top five draft pick to the Titans, along with two other top receiving weapons, Carrington Thompson and Michael Henry.

The Broncos are fortunate to bring back a trio of dynamic running backs in Jamauri Bogan, Levante Bellamy, and Jarvion Franklin. Replacing Terrell at quarterback won’t be easy, and for sophomore Jon Wassink, it hasn’t been so far. Only having tossed one touchdown pass and throwing two interceptions, Wassink has struggled to succeed taking over for a guy who made playing quarterback look like the easiest thing in the world.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Broncos look like one of the best units in the Mid American Conference. Senior defensive back, Darius Phillips has made waves in not only the secondary, but also returning kicks and punts.

Phillips has returned two kicks for touchdowns, one against USC and the other against Michigan State. He has 11 career interceptions, four of them he returned for touchdowns. Phillips is a sound tackler and he covers a lot of ground in the secondary. There is no reason to believe he shouldn’t be playing on Sundays next season in the NFL.

The linebacking corps returns three seniors, Robert Spillane, Asantay Brown, and Caleb Bailey. Spillane had the game sealing interception in last year’s MAC Championship Game against Ohio. Brown was named to the All-MAC second team after a stellar junior season. Bailey recorded two sacks last season.

One player who has breakout potential is sophomore defensive back Stefan Claiborne. Claiborne had a coming out party against Idaho, recording eight tackles and a fumble recovery. Once Phillips’s time at WMU is done, Claiborne could slide into that #1 cornerback slot and thrive.

The Broncos showed potential that they could return to their top of the MAC glory in a slugfest with then #4 USC. Some fans confidence may be wavering after the offense failed to score against Michigan State and then had to complete a comeback against Idaho the following week, but this is a team that hasn’t played together all that long. Once the team meshes together throughout the season, this may be a different conversation.

The Broncos sit at 4-2 after what could easily be mistaken as a basketball game against Buffalo in which they won 71-68, in seven, count them, seven, overtime periods. Tim Lester and the Broncos take on MAC powerhouse Akron on Saturday.

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WMU Bronco football gallops through difficult season