After taking one week off (couldn't get a Coastal Carolina writer to agree to it) we chat with Western Michigan beat writer David Drew with MLive Media Group. Here are my questions to him.
1. What are the differences, in terms of the way they run the offense, between quarterbacks Alex Carder and Tyler Van Tubbergen? Carder brings that “been there, seen that” mentality to the offense. He’s seen a lot of different defenses and he’s confident in his ability to make the right reads and check into the best possible play. Van Tubbergen is a similar type of player as Carder, but maybe just a bit less mobile. I’m interested to see how well Tyler reads Toledo’s defense Saturday.
2. Do you foresee a significant drop off in production? No. Van Tubbergen doesn’t have the starting experience Carder has, but he’s seen been on the sidelines for a few years now. He’s seen the good and the bad in WMU’s offense. He has the strongest arm on the team. He might be a better pure passer than Carder. However, the big concern is chemistry between Tyler and the receivers. It took Carder three weeks to work out the kinks with the wide outs. The question is whether or not Van Tubbergen can find that rhythm in one week. Also, WMU is effectively running the ball this season. The Broncos don’t have to depend on the passing game as much as they did last season.
3. It seems like Bill Cubit always has had good quarterbacks. What's his secret? A keen eye for talent? A good developer? I think his secret is that he puts a lot of weight on the mental strength of kids when he recruits quarterbacks. Cubit doesn’t change an offense to fit a quarterback, he develops quarterbacks to fit his offense. He recruits good decision-makers and not necessarily the most athletic guys in the country. He said on Tuesday very confidently if Saturday’s game is on the line and Van Tubbergen gets hurt he is turning to freshman Zach Terrell to go win the game.
4. What has enabled Jaime Wilson (freshman who ranks second in the country with 37 catches) to make such a quick transition? Cubit has praised Wilson for his attention to detail and his commitment in film sessions. Cubit said Wilson often leaves team meetings with pages of notes and plenty of questions. Of course there is also a good helping of natural athleticism and football instincts factoring in as well.
5. What issues plagued WMU the most in losses to Big Ten teams Illinois and Minnesota? Carder did not throw a pass for almost the entire week leading up to the Illinois game because of a minor oblique injury and it really hurt the passing game. The timing was nowhere to be seen. Against Minnesota, WMU’s defense was caught off-guard when backup quarterback Max Shortell took over for injured MarQueis Gray and scored two touchdowns in the final four minutes of the half. If the Broncos didn’t have that defensive lapse they win that game. In case you want it, my prediction is 38-31 Western Michigan. The Broncos might have a backup quarterback and a new set of receivers, but they have a running game they didn’t have last year. If WMU’s defense can make enough stops and avoid the lulls that have plagued them in every game this season the Broncos get the win.