Western Michigan 2006 Preview - Offense
Western Michigan Broncos
Preview 2006 - WMU Offense
What you need to know ...
Seven starters return, but it'll be next to impossible not
to see a step taken backwards after losing heart-and-soul WR
Greg Jennings, all-star TE Tony Scheffler and 1,004-yard RB
Trovon Riley. The offensive line is huge and experienced and
Mark Bonds is a pounding runner who should keep the chains
moving. Quarterback isn't an issue with Ryan Cubit and Tim
Hiller both returning from knee injuries and solid enough to
make everyone around them better. The real question mark is at
receiver where several players have to turn into dangerous deep
threats. Expect the whole to be better than the sum of the
Passing: Tim Hiller
98-151, 1,334 yds, 20 TD, 3 INT
Rushing: Mark Bonds
101 carries, 456 yds, 3 TD
Receiving: Joe Chapple
33 catches, 354 yds, 2 TD
Star of the offense: Senior QB Ryan Cubit
Player that has to step up and become a star: Sophomore
WR Ben Bleck-Owens
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore TE
Best pro prospect: Junior C Robbie Krutilla
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Krutilla, 2) Cubit, 3)
RB Mark Bonds
Strength of the offense: Quarterback, offensive line size
Weakness of the offense: Proven receivers
Ryan Cubit got a sixth year of eligibility and is back at
the helm at suffering a knee injury early last year. This was a
deep group of quarterbacks, but Tim Hiller is scheduled to come
back from his knee injury next year. That means JUCO transfer
Thomas Peregrin has to be good enough to step in right away if needed. The
question becomes what to do with Hiller if and when he returns
as good as new. He was the team's best quarterback last year,
but Cubit is firmly entrenched as the starter. Will the fact
that Cubit is the son of the head coach play any role in what
happens when Hiller is healthy? No, but the storylines could be
juicy if Cubit isn't putting up big numbers.
The key to the unit: Get backups Thomas Peregrin and
Caleb Clark ready to go in case Ryan Cubit has problems with his
Quarterback Rating: 6
- Ryan Cubit, Sr. - 65-108, 60%, 674 yds, 6 TD, 3 INT
Cubit, the son of the head coach, is back after getting knocked
out for the year in the third game of the season with a knee
injury. He wasn't razor sharp to start the season, but he
completed 60% of his throws and appeared ready for a huge season
before getting hurt. He's back and ready to take back the
starting role with his strong arm and good command of the
offense. Now he has to prove he can be a consistent passer at a
- Tim Hiller, Soph. - 98-151, 65%, 1,334 yds, 20 TD,
3 INT, 38 carries, 59 yds, 1 TD
Hiller stepped in to the starting role early in his freshman
season and turned out to be the team's best quarterback
completing a team best 65% of his throws and showing far more
mobility than the other two. Unfortunately, he tore up his knee
in the season finale against Northern Illinois and will take the
year off before coming back into the mix. He's a big passer who's
the team's star of the future.
- Caleb Clark, RFr.
The Canadian is a big passer with a live arm and decent
mobility. He won't run like Tim Hiller and doesn't have any
experience, so expect this to be a year of tutoring and learning
on the fly as he looks to push for the number two job until
Hiller comes back.
- Thomas Peregrin, Jr.
The JUCO transfer enrolled early to get into the quarterback
mix. He's a pure passer who rewrote the Bakersfield College
record book throwing for 4,662 yards and 39 touchdowns over the
last two seasons. With a great arm and size at 6-3 and 185
pounds, he appears to be a perfect fit for the offense.
The Broncos added a running game to the mix last year
thanks to the emergence of Trovon Riley and his 1,004 yards. Now
it'll be up to Mark Bonds to reclaim his starting spot and make
his downhill style work. Kirk Elsworth and huge wide receiver
Jamarko Simmons also provide power, so it'll be up to the
recruiting class to add the speed with Bobby Crawford, Glenis
Thompson and Brandon West all sure to get long looks to be the
spark the offense might need.
The key to the unit: Unearth a home run hitting back
and get a productive, consistent year out of Mark Bonds.
Running Back Rating: 5
- Mark Bonds, Jr. - 101 carries, 456 yds, 4.5 ypc, 3 TD,
9 catches, 19 yds
Bonds started out the year as the team's main back before Trovon
Riley came on became more effective. Bonds isn't a special back
by any means with little wiggle and little flash to the outside,
but has has speed in the open field and is a great pounder who
can be the workhorse if needed and is always moving the pile
- Kirk Elsworth, Soph. - 18 carries, 61 yds, 3.4 ypc
He's a physical back with good enough straight line speed to
turn into one of the team's top kick returners. He's 208 pounds
and will be solid between the tackles.
- Jamarko Simmons, Soph. - 6 carries, 5 yds, 11 catches, 95 yds,
Part wide receiver, part running back, Simmons is an interesting
mix of size, speed and hands. He's 6-2 and 231 pounds with
enough flash to be counted on if Mark Bonds and Kirk Elsworth
- Bobby Crawford, Fr.
Recruited for his speed and dash, the 5-8 true freshman will get
a long look at playing time as a change of pace back to Mark
Bonds. He ran for 1,281 yards and 13 touchdowns for St. Thomas
Aquinas School in Lauderdale Lakes, Florida.
Expect a major step back. No one can do what
Greg Jennings did and catch 98 passes for, 1259 yards and 14
touchdowns, and no one can replace tight end Tony Scheffler and
his 57 catches for 670 yards and nine scores. Life does go on
and WMU has several options to try to fill the void. Joe Chapple
is a good start after finishing third on the team in receptions
last year. Kelly Martin and Ben Bleck-Owens have to grow into
consistent deep threats, and part-time running back Jamarko
Simmons has to use his size to be a top target. Four tight ends
will battle it out for time with Brandon Ledbetter getting the
first look thanks to his hands and quickness.
The key to the unit: Find a combination of receivers
to replace Greg Jennings and Tony Scheffler and establish a
consistent deep threat early on.
Receiver Rating: 5.5
- Ben Bleck-Owens, Soph.
The 6-2 sophomore will take his size and speed to the outside
where he has to show he can be close to as dangerous as Greg
Jennings. He can't be, but he has the potential to be a
dangerous playmaker and the new top deep threat.
- Kelly Martin, Jr. - 3 catches, 16 yds, 5.3 ypc
The 6-3 Martin will take over at the inside Z position. He's a
big, physical receiver who hasn't been able to show off much yet
in games or practice. He has the potential to be a go-to target,
but he first has to figure out how to get open on a more
- Joe Chapple, Sr. - 33 catches, 354 yds, 10.7 ypc, 2 TD
The team's leading returning receiver has to be a big-play
threat right out of the box at the T position. He's a good
veteran who finished third on the team in receiving turning into
a nice number two wide receiver when Greg Jennings and Tony
Scheffler weren't getting the ball. He's more quick than fast
and has to be a playmaker once he gets the ball in his hands.
- Tight end Brandon Ledbetter, Soph. - 11 catches, 76 yds,
6.9 ypc, 2 TD
The team's leading returning tight end will try to fill the
gaping hole left by Tony Scheffler. He isn't huge at 221 pounds,
but he's a receiver.
- Scooter McIntosh, Jr.
The former free safety will move over to wide receiver to beef
up the T position. While not a burner by any stretch, he's a
good athlete and should see time in the rotation behind Joe
- Stephen Penn, Jr.
The JUCO transfer will push for a starting job right away on the
inside. He's a good-sized target who was tremendous last year at
Valley Forge Military Academy catching 40 passes for 1,019 yards
and 16 touchdowns.
- Herb Martin, Jr.
Martin has the speed and the talent to take over as a top
midrange threat. The 6-1 JUCO transfer caught 21 passes for 322
yards and four scores last season at Pasadena City College.
- Tight end Matt Stevens, RFr.
The 240-pound Stevens is a bigger option then Brandon Ledbetter
with the same soft hands. He's the number two man going into the
season needing to battle the 245-pound Joe Gardner to hold on to
He has to step in and produce right away in the starting
job after the death of starter Chris Bartula.
The line underwent several changes and configurations last
season with the end result turning out to be not all that bad.
Considering the shuffling and the lack of continuity, allowing 24 sacks
in this offense was a good season. Of course, the coaching staff would
like to see that number cut down considerably. It's a huge line that
should be great for the ground game; this group will hit someone hard.
There aren't any all-stars outside of center Robbie Krutilla, but
there's a lot of depth and plenty of big options to work with. However,
things are up in the air at one of the tackle spots after the tragic
suicide of starting tackle Chris Bartula this spring.
The key to the unit: Find the right combination of a
starting five and stick with it.
Offensive Line Rating: 6
- OT Rob Johnson, Soph.
Johnson is an imposing run blocker at 6-4 and 329 pounds. The former
walk-on took a while to learn the job after mostly playing defense in
high school, and now he has to become a better pass protector.
- OG Dominic Moran, Sr.
The only senior on the line, Moran will provide veteran leadership
getting the start at left guard. He has seen time at tackle and has
grown into a solid run blocker.
- C Robbie Krutilla, Jr.
The team's best lineman, the 302-pound junior is consistent in the
running game and has turned into a great anchor and leader of the line. He's
a mauling blocker who should be in the mix for All-MAC honors.
- OG Matt Williams, Jr.
The smallest, but most versatile player on the starting five, the
282-pound junior has seen starting time at both guard positions and at
tackle. He was even tried out at center for a time.
- OT James Blair, Jr.
A part time starter last year, the 338-pound Blair is a
huge guard playing tackle.
- G Steve Ellingsen, Soph.
Able to play guard or tackle, the 6-4, 280-pound sophomore will start
out behind Matt Williams at right guard. He saw a little bit of starting
experience early on an should be the team's most reliable reserve
- T Chris Bartula, Jr.
Bartula was a steady starter last season and would've been a key factor
this season, but he committed suicide on March 22nd just before the
start of spring ball.