It's more than fair to say that the current iteration of Western Michigan football is completely unproven. Perhaps a better word for the pass defense in particular is untested. The Broncos were the fourth best pass defense in the country last year, allowing just 169.2 yards through the air per game, facing 307 pass plays over the course of the season.
But that's a pretty misleading statistic as it was (more than) partly caused by the team's incredibly poor rush defense, which finished 118th in the country, at 250 yards per game on 558 running plays. That being said, the rock of the Western secondary will no doubt this year be senior cornerback Donald Celiscar—No. 34 on our list of top MAC footballers and sporting the No. 34 jersey on the Bronco roster.
Celiscar won't be alone though, as we already know all about Justin Currie's potential contributions. Celiscar had a strong 2013 campaign, getting the starting nod in all 12 games. He played a huge role in an incredible defensive team performance against Michigan State last year, with 11 tackles and two pass break-ups, helping keep the Broncos alive in a game that in hindsight was weirdly close, yet out of reach the whole time. (Michigan State only scored one offensive TD on the way to a 26-13 win.)
As the season progressed, Celiscar continued to be a presence in the secondary, grabbing picks against Nicholls State, Kent State, and Ball State, breaking up nine passes, defending twelve, and tallying 60 total tackles.
His 2012 season was also impressive as he was a full-season starter with two picks, fourteen pass break ups, a forced fumble, and 72 total tackles (one that resulted in a safety against Toledo). One of those picks proved critical in beating UConn that year, as Celiscar intercepted the Huskies when they were inside the Bronco 10-yard line.
His freshman year was solid too: 45 tackles, a pick, five PBUs, and three forced fumbles in 11 appearances. Not a shabby resume for three years.
It's been abundantly clear on the field that Celiscar has the ability to strongly defend the pass and not shy away from getting some contact defending the run. This has been recognized nationally as he has been nominated to the preseason Jim Thorpe Award watch list (the top 39 DBs in the game), and is on Phil Steele's preseason All-MAC team. (Side note, Phil Steele is probably the most thorough college football stats guy out there, check him out if you haven't already.)
Entering his fourth year of consistent service, Celiscar should have confidence and skills to lead the Bronco secondary that gets to show off four returning starters. As the Bronco run defense looks to improve during 2014, Celiscar and his four veteran secondary mates will be tested even further.