Hustle Belt: PJ Fleck had one of the more prolific recruiting classes in MAC history this off-season, but two of his three most prized recruits will not be on the roster this season. Does that make this team less lethal, or do they still have the young guns to climb out of the MAC cellar?
David Drew: WMU won't be any less lethal without the players it lost coming into the season. A handful of freshmen will contribute this season, but I think the coaching staff is going to try to redshirt as many of the new players as it can. Thirteen of the 22 starters listed on the depth chart are returning contributors or upperclassmen.
When you go 1-11, lose to an FCS opponent and your one win is because UMass failed on a two-point conversion there is nowhere to go but up, right? WMU's 2014 class will be important to the future of the program, but I don't think that future is now. I expect this season to be full of more growing pains for the program, but this year's new players and another big 2015 class will have expectations much higher for next year.
HB: WMU has won back-to-back MAC Freshman of the Year awards. Any chance they repeat, and if so, who?
DD: There is always a chance. I expect running back Jarvion Franklin to have a big impact on the Broncos' offense this season, as well as redshirt freshman receiver Darius Phillips. WMU is counting on both of them to make plays.
HB: The defensive box lost a lot of talent, albeit not great talent, from graduation. Who should Bronco fans look to fill the void, and can they stop the run this year?
DD: WMU will have talent and depth in the front seven. Having junior linebacker Devon Brant back from a torn ACL helps solidify the middle. Sophomore Austin Lewis is a lengthy athletic guy you like in open space. Also, you might see freshman Robert Spillane making plays at the other outside linebacker spot. Up front, WMU will be eight-deep on the line, so at the very least the Broncos will have fresh bodies to plug gaps. Western Michigan should be better at stopping the run, but I still expect opponents to have a run-first mentality against WMU.
HB: If you had to handicap the starting QB position, how many games does each of the three candidates start this season? How many games would you say each QB sees this year?
DD: Zach Terrell goes into the season as the starter and it will stay that way until he can't get the job done. There won't be any rotating during games or changes from game to game unless Terrell can't perform. Cam Thomas will be the backup and it's very likely that true freshman Chance Stewart will redshirt this season to get a good grasp of the offense and really compete for the starting job next season. Stewart has the physical tools to be a good quarterback, but he still has plenty of learning to do to get up to speed at the college level.
HB: After a 1-11 season last year, a more comfortable non-conference schedule coupled with a weaker conference overall should set up the Broncos for more wins this year. Do they get to .500? Are they a 3-4 win team? Or do they toe the line with the never-before-seen-in-program-history 0-fer season?
DD: I see the Broncos winning three games, with wins against Murray State, Miami and Eastern Michigan. I think the ceiling for WMU is five wins with Idaho and Central Michigan both serving as toss-ups in a sense. Remember, Northern Illinois went out to Moscow, Idaho and nearly lost last season. There is always the potential for a winless season, but I don't see it happening.