Our WMU preview with the Broncos only full-time beat writer.
Graham Couch of the Kalamazoo Gazette knows Western Michigan about as well as their coaches. After all, he's at practice each day, and travels to every road game. Before leaving for Saturday's game at Doak, Couch gave us a preview of what to expect from
the 7 - 3 Broncs from Kalamazoo.
Is WMU down after losing 31 - 7 to hated rival Central Michigan? Couch says, "It was in atrocious weather — a driving, freezing rain that left only 3,000 in the stands at the end of the game. A lousy day for a team that loves to throw the ball and depends on speed. WMU is a young team that's often played above their level this year. But when things go wrong, they tend to spiral out of control."
A sixth-year QB at the reins of the Broncos. He's Ryan Cubit, the son of Western's Coach, Bill Cubit. Couch told us "Cubit is the key to the offense. He's smart and experienced and has made lots of big plays on audibles. He's got a strong arm but is prone to interceptions."
As for his Dad, Couch reports that this is Cubit's first D-1 head coaching job. During the 80's the older Cubit was an assistant at Florida, and spent three years at UCF. "He's offensive-minded and runs a spread offense that's not traditional, as the QB often lines up under center" says Couch. "He's also adapted the offense well to the talent."
Four receivers will test Nole DBs. Couch reports that Florida boy Joe Chapple is the Broncs possession receiver. Jamarko Simmons is a 6-2, 231 lb. RB turned WR who's dangerous on slants and swing passes. And speedy Herb Martin is a 6-2 deep threat. But their go-to guy has been 6-5 TE Brandon Ledbetter. With WR speed, the big sophomore from Ft. Lauderdale leads all receivers with 31 catches and six TDs.
Running backs: The Broncs balanced offense features freshman speedster Brandon West who got 117 yards last week on a wet field. Chances are West will be tackled by former teammate and Nole DE, Kevin McNeil. Both played last year at Camden County in Brunswick, Georgia. But West isn't the only weapon. WMU's downhill running threat is 215 lb. junior Mark Bonds.
Defense ranked 16th nationally. And that's one notch above the Gators in Total D, allowing just 286 yards per game. Says Couch: "It's really the strength of the team. They have just okay size, but are fast, they attack, and disguise things well. They totally shut down Virginia early in the season.
Couch says the secondary is all sophomores and freshman, "but they're fast and talented. Cornerback Londen Fryar is the son of former NFL receiver Irving Fryar."
How much does WMU want it? Couch believes a trip to Florida is just what the Broncos need to shake off last week's painful loss. "They'll be fired up — especially the 13 players from Florida, who'll have family at the game. With good weather (68 degrees and sunny) and a fast track, Cubit will run the full offense, probably throwing 30 to 40 times. And Western can really help their bowl prospects by beating FSU."