2010 Western Michigan Preview
Western Michigan WR Juan Nunez
Western Michigan WR Juan Nunez
Posted Aug 8, 2010

CollegeFootballNews.com 2010 Preview - Western Michigan Broncos

Western Michigan Broncos

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By Pete Fiutak

Head coach: Bill Cubit
6th year: 34-27
12th year overall: 68-45-1
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 14, Def. 19, ST 2
Lettermen Lost: 14
Ten Best Western Michigan Players
1. SS Jamail Berry, Sr.
2. WR Juan Nunez, Sr.
3. WR Robert Arnheim, Jr.
4. LB Deuntay Legrier, Soph.
5. WR Jordan White, Sr.
6. LB Mitch Zajac, Jr.
7. CB Damond Smith, Soph.
8. FS Doug Wiggins, Jr.
9. OT Dann O'Neill, Soph.
10. QB Alex Carder, Soph.
2010 Schedule

Sept. 4 at Michigan St
Sept. 11 Nicholls St
Sept. 18 Toledo
Sept. 25 OPEN DATE
Oct. 2 Idaho
Oct. 9 at Ball State
Oct. 16 at Notre Dame
Oct. 23 at Akron
Oct. 30 NIU
Nov. 5 Central Mich
Nov. 13 Eastern Mich
Nov. 20 Kent State
Nov. 26 at Bowling Green

Western Michigan has managed to be good over the last few years, very good at times, but it hasn't been able to turn the corner and be great. Last year was supposed to be when the team made a leap forward, it didn't happen, and now the pressure is on head coach Bill Cubit to show that he can turn all the talent and athleticism he has amassed and mold it into a MAC champion.

The big tag on the program over the last few years is that it can't seem to come up with the big win when it really needs it, and that happened last season losing three of the last four games to blow a chance at a winning season. Making it worse were late losses to mediocre Kent State and Ball State teams. This was an 8-4-caliber team that finished 5-7.

The defense was a major disappointment with no pass rush, lousy play from the secondary, and not enough big plays from the linebacking corps. The offense was inconsistent, didn't get the transcendent season needed out of QB Tim Hiller, and it sputtered too much in the losses. This year, there are no excuses for a team with as much raw talent and athleticism as any in the conference.

The receiving corps is loaded with fantastic talents, led by home-run hitters Juan Nunez, Jordan White, and Robert Arnheim, the offensive line gets four starters back and add Dann O'Neill, a transfer from Michigan who might be the most talented blocker the program has had in years. The backfield has plenty of quickness and a few good options, and Alex Carder is a mobile quarterback who might not be Hiller, but should grow into a dangerous dual-threat playmaker.

The defense is loaded in the secondary, especially at safety, has several good young linebackers and a few solid veterans, and the line has speed on the outside and upgraded beef on the inside. Now everyone has to play after finishing 12th in the MAC in total defense and doing next to nothing against the run or the pass … that's a problem.

This might not be an elite MAC team, but there isn't a true killer in the league this year, outside of, maybe, Temple, and there's no reason to not win the West. The Broncos have never won a bowl game, they haven't played in the MAC title game since 2000, and they came up with two losing seasons in the last three. With Central Michigan likely to take a step back, it's time to be better.

What to watch for on offense:
The receiving corps. Injuries have been a problem among the talented players, but after coming into last season young and inexperienced, the receivers should be devastating. Nunez, Arnheim, and White are all No. 1 targets who could take turns coming up with big games, Trey Smith is a 6-4 threat who uses his size well, and Ansel Ponder and Chleb Ravenell would start for just about anyone else in the league. Throw in excellent pass-catching prospect Blake Hammond and Clark Mussman at tight end, and the passing game should become fantastic with a little time for QB Alex Carder to mature.

What to watch for on defense: Defensive coordinator Dave Cohen to release the hounds. The WMU defense was among the best in the nation a few years ago when it came to hitting quarterbacks, but it stunk it up over the last few years and didn't generate enough pressure. Out goes Steve Morrison and in comes Cohen who promises to get more aggressive to utilize the speed and athleticism on the outside. That will work with more size on the inside, and JUCO transfer John Rice and 322-pound freshman Travonte Boles will help the cause.

The team will be far better if … the offense can score more than 20 points. WMU averaged 24.67 points per game last year and went 5-0 when scoring 20 or more and 0-7 when scoring fewer. The defense is going to be better, but it's not going to be a brick wall and the offense will have to put up some decent numbers to keep up the pace.

The schedule: The non-conference slate has its chances to shine with a trip to Michigan State to kick things off and a date with Notre Dame in the middle of October. Getting Idaho, a bowl team who beat Northern Illinois and Bowling Green last year, at home should be interesting, and Nicholls State is a layup. The problem is the mid-section going on the road for four games in five weeks including a trip to Central Michigan in what might once again be the key game in the West race. On the plus side, Northern Illinois and Toledo, two of the other main contenders in the division, have to come to Kalamazoo, and missing Temple from the East is a break with Kent State and Bowling Green the interdivisional matchups.

Best offensive player: Senior WR Juan Nunez … or junior WR Robert Arnheim, or senior WR Jordan White. Nunez suffered a knee injury midway through last year, but he was terrific during the first half of the year catching 32 passes for 435 yards and six touchdowns in just six games. He's a speedster who can stretch the field, while Arnheim led the team with 59 grabs and White caught 21 passes for 261 yards in the final two games of last season. Ansel Ponder, Trey Smith, and Chleb Ravenell would form a dangerous starting trio on just about any other MAC team.

Best defensive player: Senior SS Jamail Berry. LB Deauntay Legrier should end up being the teams statistical star playing in the middle, and there are other defensive backs like Doug Wiggins and Mario Armstrong who should shine, but Berry is the star playmaker either at Rover or strong safety. He was fourth on the team in tackles last season making 58 stops while picking off five passes. He also returned a fumble for a score against Miami University.

Key player to a successful season: Sophomore QB Alex Carder. Senior Drew Burdi is the fallback choice, but if the program is going to take a big step forward it needs Carder to shine. There are other good young prospects waiting in the wings, but it's Carder who has the wee bit of experience to be ready to take over for Tim Hiller. Mobile and with a good arm, he's a dual-threat who could quickly grow into a star.

The season will be a success if … WMU wins the West. It's not going to be a walk in the park with Toledo, Northern Illinois, and Central Michigan making this the far tougher of the two divisions, but the schedule isn't awful and there's more than enough talent to be in the race for the title the entire year.

Key game: Nov. 5 at Central Michigan. Considering the two other big division games (Toledo and Northern Illinois) are at home, coming up with a win over the in-state and divisional rival for the first time since 2005 and for the second time in six years could be a must to win the West title.

2009 Fun Stats:
- Penalties: Opponents 82 for 660 yards – Western Michigan 57 for 528 yards
- Rushing yards: Opponents 2,140 – Western Michigan 1,348
- Attendance at Michigan on Sept. 4 – 109,019 – Attendance at Eastern Michigan Nov. 14 – 3,281

- 2010 Western Michigan Preview | 2010 Western Michigan Offense
- 2010 Western Michigan Defense | 2010 Western Michigan Depth Chart
- Western Michigan Previews  2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006