It's time to play "Guess My Emotion About Western Michigan Bronco Football!" Well, what do you think? If you guessed cautious optimism, you'd be right! Last weekend the Broncos beat the Idaho Vandals in pretty convincing fashion. The offense looked good, and the defense made a lot of stops and got to Idaho QB Matt Linehan for five sacks. Don't get me wrong, I am very happy about the win, but my caution comes from the fact that that Idaho team was about on par with us. We've got a long way to go I think and that's ok. But we're winning the games we should be winning and progress feels pretty damn good.
This week Western will get a chance to display that progress to the hometown crowd with its first game in Kalamazoo against the Murray State Racers (kickoff 7:00 EDT). This is another game the Broncos should win and doing so would instill even more confidence in a team that looked calm, collected, and powerful last week.
Here's why the Broncos should win.
First, our offense. We looked more than solid in the first two games and Murray State shouldn't have anyone to match what we've got. Zach Terrell was throwing the ball around like crazy against Idaho and Jarvion Franklin has 374 yards and six touchdowns in the first two games. Six. Freaking. Touchdowns. DID I MENTION I'M EXCITED ABOUT FRANKLIN? If you don't think an old school bruiser running back is the best thing about college football, then you're out of your mind. (DISCLAIMER: Just kidding! Hustle Belt welcomes all viewpoints on how the game of college football should be played). Let's not forget about the offensive line's part in Franklin's success as well. The big hog mollies (trademark Kirk Herbstreit?) have looked good, only allowing Terrell to be sacked once against Idaho, and providing the protection that led to three touchdowns through the air.
The defense was also markedly improved against Idaho. The defense provided 2 turnovers and as I already mentioned, pressured the offense significantly. Their job won't be a cake walk against Murray State though. These guys have a pretty intense run-and-gun, no huddle attack. WMU coach P.J. Fleck will have to make some adjustments to keep up, but they're not out-of-the-question adjustments. Unfortunately though, the Broncos might be without linebacker Austin Lewis, who injured his knee last week. It's still unclear whether or not Lewis will be ready for Murray State.
So this is a game where I think we're more talented and will get the W. (I predict 39-24, by the way). But on a different note, beating Murray would be huge for the fan base. I'm of the opinion (some would call the supremely naive opinion) that you should stand 100% with your team at all times. But I know that's not exactly realistic. The Western fans didn't see a home win last year. That sucks, and it understandably frustrated people. People want - hell, they need - to see a win over this FCS opponent. Beating Murray State would get a lot of people back on board. And for the die-hards out there, it would show that the progression we saw against Idaho wasn't a fluke. I don't think it was, and we'll see if I'm right on Saturday.