Preview 2007 - Offense
2007 WMU Defense Preview
- 2007 WMU Depth
2006 CFN Western
What you need to know:
The parts are there, and now the
production has to come. The offensive line, led by center Robbie
Krutilla and three other starters, will be one of the best in
the MAC, and it should give the quarterback all the time in the
world. Now the question is who that'll be. Thomas Peregrin and
Tim Hiller will each likely see time this year, and either one
can be a star. The receiving corps will be serviceable, and it
needs tight end Branden Ledbetter to grow into an even more
prominent target, and has to hope several speedy newcomers can
play right away, for more pop. Mark Bonds is a steady 1,000-yard
back who'll combine with Brandon West for a nice 1-2 punch.
Everything's in place. There's no excuse for the attack to be as
average as it was last year.
Passing: Thomas Peregrin
27-39, 189 yds, 3 TD, 0 INT
Rushing: Mark Bonds
252 carries, 1,082 yds, 7 TD
Receiving: Jamarko Simmons
61 catches, 668 yds, 2 TD
Star of the offense: Senior QB Thomas Peregrin or
sophomore QB Tim Hiller
Player that has to step up and become a star: Redshirt
freshman OG Nick Clemens
Unsung star on the rise:
Senior WR Herb Martin
Best pro prospect: Senior C Robbie Krutilla
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Krutilla, 2) Hiller, 3) RB Mark Bonds
Strength of the offense: Quarterback, offensive line
Weakness of the offense: Proven receiver deep speed
Projected Starter: For now, the starter is senior
Thomas Peregrin, a 6-3, 185-pound pure passer who came over
from the JUCO ranks and filled in nicely for Ryan Cubit, leading
the team to wins over Toledo and Virginia. Forget about one pass
thrown in garbage time against Temple, and he didn't see the
field for the final nine games of the season despite completing
27 of 39 passes for 189 yards and three touchdowns with no
interceptions, along with a 2-0 record as a starter. He'll have
to battle to keep his job, but he won't easily be moved out of
the starting role.
Projected Top Reserves: Sophomore Tim Hiller
appeared to be on his way to becoming a star after
completing 65% of his passes for 1,334 yards and 20 touchdowns
with just three interceptions over the final five games of 2005
before getting knocked out with a knee injury in the season
finale against Northern Illinois. He wasn't quite ready yet and
sat out last year, but the 6-5, 215-pounder is back, has a full
command of the offense, and is ready to take over if Peregrin
isn't the main man.
6-2, 180-pound redshirt freshman Drew Burdi is the third
man in the hunt, but he's being given every shot to win the
starting job. He's the smallest of the three candidates at 6-2
and 180 pounds, but he has the best arm of the three with the
ability to drive the ball well enough to make any throw in the
book. He's more of a bomber than Peregrin and Hiller.
Watch Out For ... the quarterback battle to
continue until the last possible second. Fortunately, there
isn't a bad option.
Strength: Talent. Any one of the three quarterbacks could start
and make the offense shine. All have excellent, accurate arms
with good decision making skills.
Weakness: Running. Don't expect any positive net yards from any
of the three. Burdi can move a little bit, but these three are
all about passing.
Outlook: Head coach Bill Cubit had said he wanted
the situation settled in spring ball, but now the competition is
more wide open than ever. The most consistent passer in fall
practices will get the job, but don't be shocked if there's a
shuffle over the course of the season. Can the starter be
secure, or will he be looking over his shoulder? That remains to
Projected Starter: Back after being suspended for the
International Bowl, 5-10, 215-pound senior Mark Bonds is
the runner who balances out the offense. While not a home-run
hitter, he has a good burst through the line and excellent power
rushing for 1,082 yards and seven touchdowns. As good as he was,
he wasn't much of a scorer after the first month with just two
touchdowns after the fourth game of the year. A good receiver
with 26 catches for 164 yards, he's a reliable bail out target,
but he's not going to make anyone miss and come up with a big
Projected Top Reserves: While Bonds is the clear
number one back, sophomore Brandon West is a solid second
option with 633 yards and three scores last season. A top
kickoff returner with a 28-yard average, he has the speed
element Bonds is missing, but he's not going to provide the same
power for hard yards. When given a chance, he can carry the
ground game with 109 yards and a score against Cincinnati in the
International Bowl, and a 117-yard, one score day against
Central Michigan. It's no coincidence that both his 100-yard
days came when he carried the ball more than 20 times.
Sophomore Glenis Thompson is an interesting mix of power
and quickness. A bowling ball at 5-9 and 215 pounds, he battered
his way to 85 yards in a limited role over the second half of
Watch Out For ... more straight-ahead running from
the backs. The coaching staff has made a point of always wanting
hard yards and for the backs to be moving forward. Don't look
for a lot of dancing around.
Strength: Between the tackles running. Bonds and Thompson can
pound the ball as well as anyone in the MAC, and West will blow
through when he gets a hole up the middle.
Weakness: Breakaway speed. West is the fast back, but his
longest run was just 29 yards. Bonds can crank out a big run
here and there, but he's not a threat to go the distance.
Outlook: All eyes are always on the WMU passing
game, but the ground game will be every bit as effective. He
might not be pretty, he might not be flashy, but Bonds is a
productive runner the offense can count on all season long. West
is as good a number two as any back in the MAC.
Projected Starters: A big question mark going into last
season, the receiving corps got a huge lift from now junior
Jamarko Simmons with a terrific 61-catch, 668-yard, two
touchdown season. A talented all-around playmaker who's able to
take a few carries here and there, he emerged as a go-to
possession receiver who busted out late in the season with a
nine-catch, 123-yard, one score effort against Florida State,
and a 13-catch, 172-yard one touchdown day against Cincinnati.
At 6-2 and 231 pounds, he's a tough target who's tough to bring
Taking over at the outside X will be senior Herb Martin,
one of the stars of spring ball and an emerging deep receiver.
With 30 catches for 365 yards and four scores last year, and a
12.2-yard average, he led the team in yards per catch and now
will be even more of a field-stretcher. The former JUCO transfer
has some of the best wheels in the corps.
In the three-wide attack, 6-3, 180-pound senior Kelly Martin
will step into a starting role at the Z position. A big,
physical receiver, he only caught two passes for 17 yards last
year. While he has decent speed, his job will be to be
consistent on midrange plays and to keep the chains moving.
Back at tight end is 6-5, 221-pound junior Branden Ledbetter
after finishing second on the team with 37 catches for 423
yards and six scores. More of a big wide receiver than a true
tight end, he did a great job of taking over for
Tony Scheffler as a good field-stretcher and occasional
go-to target. Great around the goal line, he also made nine
grabs for 101 yards and two touchdowns against Miami University.
Projected Top Reserves: Is he ready? The Broncos
staged a major coup with superstar JUCO recruit
Schneider Julien, an elite kick and
punt returner who will instantly provide more pizzazz to the
passing game. He could've gone to almost any big-name team, but
he'll be a dangerous weapon for the Broncos. Like Julien, 6-1,
175-pound true freshman Juan Nunez is from Miami, and
like Julien, he can fly. A top high school sprinter, he's a
smaller, faster option at the T behind Simmons.
Working with Herb Martin on the X will be 6-2, 195-pound
redshirt freshman Jordan White, a big, dangerous open
field receiver who should grow into a role either outside or in.
He provides too much of a matchup problem to keep off the field.
First he has to get healthy after missing time in spring ball.
Behind Ledbetter at tight end is 6-3, 231-pound junior Keith
Schultz, who made three touchdown catches and is a good
short yardage target with seven catches for 69 yards, and he's a
better blocker than Ledbetter.
Watch Out For ... a bigger year from Ledbetter. It
doesn't matter who's at quarterback, Ledbetter is a strong
receiver who should get the ball even more in the short to
midrange passing game.
Strength: Size. Between the 6-2, 231-pound Simmons, the 6-2,
187-pound Herb Martin, and the 6-3, 180-pound Kelly Martin, this
is a big corps that provides a bunch of matchup problems with
the smaller MAC secondaries.
Weakness: Speed. Julien and Nunez have to be factors to start
making more big plays. Herb Martin and Jordan White have decent
wheels at the X, but they're not going to torch too many top
Outlook: It's not exactly back to the days of Greg
Jennings and Tony Scheffler, but the corps should be solid with
several good prospects. Having a main receiver like Simmons to
revolve around is a major plus, while Ledbetter and the Martins
will hover around the 30-catch mark. With promising newcomers in
the mix, the potential is there for a big year.
Projected Starters: The line was terrific last season, and
now four starters are back, led by center Robbie Krutilla, The
6-3, 308-pound senior is a big, talented all-around blocker who's great
at making the right line calls and as steady as they come. Possibly a
guard at the next level, he's a mauler for the running game.
Next to him at left guard will once again be senior Matt Williams,
who isn't huge at 6-2 and 282 pounds, but is effective. By far the
line's most versatile blocker, he can play any spot having seen a little
time at tackle and center in his career.
Junior left tackle Rob Johnson started to play like a real live
offensive lineman last year. The former defensive lineman is an imposing
6-4 and 329 pounds with surprising quickness. He grew into a great pass
blocker, as did 6-3, 338-pound senior James Blair. More of a pure
guard than a tackle, Blair is excellent for the running game with the
strength to lock on to defenders and bowl them over. He's a better
athlete than his size would suggest.
The one newcomer to the starting five is 6-5, 320-pound redshirt
freshman Nick Clemens. While not the quickest lineman around,
he's big, strong, and a tough run blocker. He's used to be the anchor of
the line having led the way to to a Wisconsin state championship.
Projected Top Reserves: The backups are a question
mark. 6-4, 280-pound junior Steve Ellingsen has seen time at
guard, but he's built more like a tackle. He'll start out behind Blair
on the right side after stepping in and making three starts last year.
Providing more beef to an already big line is 6-4, 313-pound redshirt
freshman Phillip Swanson at left guard. Over 30 pounds bigger
than Matt Williams, he could come in when the hard running yards are
Watch Out For ... this to be one of the MAC's best
lines, if not the best. This was a terrific group last year, and now
with four starters returning, it should be one of the team's strengths.
Strength: Size. The line averages well over 310 pounds as is.
Put in Swanson for Williams at left guard and the line hovers around 320
pounds a man. It's a surprisingly good pass blocking unit for the size.
Weakness: Experienced depth. There isn't much. The team will
have to rely on several redshirt freshmen, and other untested prospects,
to be ready to step in at a moment's notice.
Outlook: The line allowed a mere 17 sacks and did
a good job paving the way for the running game when it had to. With all
the returning experience, and all the size, there's no reason there
can't be even more production as long as everyone stays healthy. This
has been a line almost two years in the making with several tweaks and
changes, and now it should shine.