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Five things learned from Western Michigan vs North Carolina Central

There were lessons to be learned from Saturday night’s wet blow-out at Waldo Stadium

NCAA Football: Western Michigan at Northwestern Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Western Michigan dominated North Carolina Central last night to the tune of a 70-21 shellacking. While there wasn’t much to take away from the game against an FCS foe, we did learn a bit.

The Bronco secondary is susceptible to big plays.

In the first half, the Eagles were able to take advantage of the young Bronco secondary to the tune of three scores. After back-to-back three-and-outs to start the game, the secondary gave up a 17 yard pass for the Eagles’ first 1st down of the game. The next drive saw a 34 yard run set-up the first NCCU touchdown on the night.

The biggest play came mid-way through the 2nd quarter, when Eagle quarterback Malcolm Bell hit LaVontis Smith for a 71-yard touchdown pass. WMU safety Justin Tranquill tried to jump the route, but missed, all after Smith had already burned the rest of the Bronco secondary. They’d allow another touchdown on a 6 play, 75 yard drive that only took a minute to run.

However...

The defense is still rock solid.

The 2nd half was phenomenal. After a one hour and seven minute weather delay, the defense came out and executed their adjustments perfectly.

Just how good? Total yards in the 2nd half went in favor of WMU to the tune of 260-31, with the Eagles held to just 3 total passing yards in the half.

Overall, the defense didn’t force a turnover. That’s not good. However, they did force 7 three-and-outs on the night, and kept the Eagles off the board in the 2nd half, so they did their job.

The WR2 position could be an issue.

The battle between Carrington Thompson and Michael Henry for the 2nd option behind Corey Davis continued on Saturday. And like the Northwestern game the week prior, neither did much to stand head and shoulders above the other.

Henry had 8 targets on the night, and finished with 4 catches. He had at least one drop in the first half that could’ve resulted in a first down (and possibly a touchdown), and I vaguely recall him dropping another pass in the 2nd half.

Thompson was only targeted 4 times, catching half of his targets as well, but did finish with a touchdown. Thompson, who had a drop earlier in the game, made a nice jumping catch, then broke a tackle en route to the 3rd WMU touchdown on the night.

We’ll keep an eye on this battle, but the Broncos need to get better production out of both when MAC play starts and Davis sees better double teams.

Earth, Wind, and Fire are going to cause serious problems for the MAC.

That’s the name given to the trio of running-backs P.J. Fleck has at his disposal. Jarvion Franklin (Earth) is the powerful back, if not a tad bit slow. Jamauri Bogan (Wind) is always reliable to provide a lift when needed, and never slows down. LeVante Bellamy (Fire) has a reputation for being lightning quick and burning teams with his speed.

The three had nearly identical carry totals, with Bellamy finishing one carry behind his teammates’ 17 mark. Bogan and Bellamy both broke the 100 yard mark, with Franklin finishing just 7 yards shy. They all three scored as well, with flashbacks to the Ohio game from last year summoned by the balanced performance.

PJ Fleck is determined to make Bronco history

After getting the program’s first Top 25 win and bowl win, Fleck discussed how “nevers aren’t forever”. Well, Saturday he proved it again.

For the first time since 1996, the Broncos scored 70 or more points on an opponent. Additionally, with the win, WMU is now 2-0 to start the season for the first time since 1994. He now has a chance to win two games over Big Ten schools in the same season with a game against Illinois next weekend.

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WMU next plays Illinois on the road Saturday, Sept. 17 at 3:00 p.m. CST.