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2007 Western Michigan Preview - Offense

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jul 17, 2007


Preview 2007 Western Michigan Bronco Offense

Western Michigan Broncos

Preview 2007 - Offense


- 2007 Western Michigan Preview | 2007 WMU Defense Preview
- 2007 WMU Depth Chart | 2006 CFN Western Michigan Preview 


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.

Returning Leaders
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

Quarterbacks

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 be seen.
Rating: 7

Running Backs

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 play.

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 last year.


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.
Rating: 6

Receivers


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 down.

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 corners.
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.
Rating: 6

Offensive Linemen

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 needed.

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.
Rating:
6.5

 

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2007 Western Michigan Preview
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jul 17, 2007
2007 Western Michigan Preview - Defense
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2007 Western Michigan Preview - Depth Chart
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