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           ***** NCAA Football Preview - Western Michigan Broncos *****
 
 By Lucas Gulotta, Associate College Football Editor
 
 Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
 
 2012 SEASON IN REVIEW: Bill Cubit's Broncos had a lot to build on as they came
 into the 2012 campaign following a 7-6 season that ended with a close loss to
 Purdue in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl. Unfortunately, WMU did not return to
 the postseason in 2012 as its once reliable offense faltered and its defense
 was average at best.
 
 Cubit's squad began its season with a 24-7 loss at Illinois and won its home
 opener at Waldo Stadium, 52-21, over Eastern Illinois. The Broncos then
 suffered a loss to another Big Ten school when they dropped a 28-23 decision
 at Minnesota. They defeated a BCS conference program the next week when
 Connecticut (30-24) paid a visit, but lost four of their first five MAC games
 with the only victory coming from their bout with Massachusetts (52-14), which
 was in its first season at the FBS level. WMU was defeated by Toledo (37-17),
 Ball State (30-24), Kent State (41-24) and Northern Illinois (48-34).
 
 It picked up one more win at Central Michigan (42-31) but lost its last two at
 Buffalo (29-24) and Eastern Michigan (29-23). Cubit was fired at the end of
 the disappointing season. WMU hired P.J. Fleck to rebuild the program. At 32
 years of age, he will begin the season as the youngest head coach in the FBS.
 He previously worked as the wide receivers coach for Northern Illinois,
 Rutgers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
 
 2013 ANALYSIS:
 
 OFFENSE: The Broncos had the most potent passing attack in the MAC in 2011 and
 were expected to be one of the best in the nation in 2012 with Alex Carder
 back under center. Carder's senior campaign was disappointing as he was
 replaced mid season by Tyler Van Tubbergen. The backup went 159-of-261 for
 1,825 yards with 15 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in his first year of
 significant action.
 
 "I'm really comfortable and I am miles ahead of where I was when I was first
 introduced," said Van Tubbergen. "I'm anticipating that I keep getting better
 and more comfortable. Hopefully that translates well on the field."
 
 Van Tubbergen should have more confidence built up for his senior year with
 his top two targets, Jamie Wilson and Josh Schaffer, both back at wideout.
 Wilson was one of the MAC's busiest receivers in 2012 with 67 catches. He also
 placed among the conference leaders in yards (792) and touchdowns (six),
 despite struggling near the end of the season with a groin injury that also
 kept him out one game. Schaffer finished second on WMU with 43 receptions and
 Justin Collins (401 yards, five TDs) and Daniel Braverman (135 yards) give the
 team more depth.
 
 Senior tailback Brian Fields earned the starting job in the spring after
 tallying 259 yards and two scores on 68 attempts last year. He has amassed
 over 1,000 yards on the ground in his career. Fields will have trouble
 maintaining his impressive career average of 5.3 yards per carry behind an
 offensive line that has only one returning starter.
 
 Senior Terry Davidson (6-6, 297) is moving from the outside to center to give
 redshirt freshman Taylor Moton (6-5, 291) and sophomore Willie Beavers (6-4,
 309) a chance to develop at tackle. Moton was an all-state player in Michigan
 as a high school senior. He has plenty of potential to be a four-year starter.
 
 DEFENSE: The unit that finished fifth in the MAC in total defense with 395.9
 allowed yards per game and seventh in scoring defense with 29.7 allowed points
 per contest lost some of its key pieces up front. Deauntay Legrier was the
 most aggressive lineman, with a team-high 4.5 sacks and his graduation leaves
 WMU without a big pass rushing threat. Senior tackle Trevonte Boles (5-10,
 295) is going to have to step up his performance. He made 9.5 tackles for loss
 in 2012, good for 12th in the conference.
 
 The Broncos also have back Johnnie Simon, who was the heart and soul of the
 defense with a team-high 103 tackles and one interception. Senior linebacker
 Desmond Bozeman also returns after registering 90 total tackles, 5.5 TFL, four
 sacks and a fumble return for a score.
 
 Simon appeared to be a confident leader at the MAC Media Day.
 
 "My personal goal is to make as many plays as I can," said Simon. "I hate
 missing tackles, I like to make sure I don't miss any during the game.
 My team goal is to win the MAC Championship. That's something we haven't done
 in a while and that's something I'd like for us to get."
 
 The secondary has a couple of capable players in junior cornerback Donald
 Celiscar and junior safety Justin Currie. Celiscar is the only player coming
 off a season with multiple interceptions and made 79 tackles as a sophomore.
 Currie recorded 98 total stops, forced one fumble and broke up three passes.
 
 SPECIAL TEAMS: Sophomore Andrew Haldeman proved he was one of the most
 accurate place kickers in the conference last season as he made 27 consecutive
 extra point attempts to conclude the year. He also went 10-of-16 on field goal
 tries.
 
 Sophomore J. Schroeder averaged 40.8 yards per punt as a rookie. He had an
 impressive career-long 82-yard punt and 11 of his kicks traveled further than
 50 yards. Fields will most likely forfeit his kick returning duties to become
 the team's primary running back. Braverman's speed makes him a strong
 candidate to become the Broncos' new return specialist.
 
 OUTLOOK: WMU's non-conference schedule could put it in an early hole as it has
 three road games versus Big Ten schools. The popular belief is that the
 Broncos will struggle in MAC play as well. They were picked to finish fifth
 out of six teams in the West Division standings at the annual MAC Media Day.
 
 "The poll results don't surprise me. I was hired to build a program, and we
 have a lot of work to do to get to where we want to be, to be elite," said
 Fleck.  "These young men, these coaches and I won't rest until this program is
 competing for, and winning, MAC titles."
 
 WMU begins its 2013 campaign at Michigan State for an in-state battle. It
 welcomes Nicholls to Waldo Stadium the following week before road trips to
 Northwestern and Iowa. The Broncos do not have an easy start to their quest
 for a MAC title. They will host Kent State and visit Toledo to begin their
 league slate. WMU also has matchups against Buffalo, Ball State,
 Massachusetts, EMU, CMU and the two-time defending champion NIU Huskies.
 
 Fleck has brought energy to the program that could trigger a big turnaround.
 WMU has its most important players returning on both sides of the ball, but
 the quick adaptation to starting roles of the new crop of players will be
 vital in improving upon 2011's 4-8 finish.
 
 
 
 08/19 11:46:05 ET

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
DUR 3
NOR 2
 
7:05pm Tonight
NOR
DUR
 
Final
PHI 1
ATL 0
Final
DET 7
CLE 5
Final
MIN 7
TOR 0
Final
TEX 8
SEA 6
Final
SFG 1
LOS 2
Final
SDP 1
COL 3
Final
PIT 11
MIL 2
Final
WAS 0
STL 8
Final
TAM 2
NYY 10
Final
MIN 9
TOR 5
Final
CWS 1
BOS 3
Final
HOU 1
KAN 5
2:20pm Today
CHC
CIN
 
7:05pm Tonight
PIT
MIL
 
7:05pm Tonight
WAS
STL
 
7:05pm Tonight
CLE
TOR
 
7:08pm Tonight
DET
ANA
 
7:10pm Tonight
NYM
ATL
 
7:10pm Tonight
BOS
BAL
 
7:10pm Tonight
TAM
NYY
 
7:10pm Tonight
MIA
SEA
 
8:05pm Tonight
TEX
CWS
 
8:10pm Tonight
KAN
MIN
 
8:40pm Tonight
COL
PHI
 
10:05pm Tonight
OAK
HOU
 
10:10pm Tonight
LOS
ARI
 
10:10pm Tonight
SDP
SFG
 
Final
NYR 4
PHI 1
Final
STL 4
CHI 3
Final
COL 5
MIN 4
Final
SJS 6
LOS 3
7:00pm Tonight
TAM
MON
7:30pm Tonight
BOS
DET
10:00pm Tonight
ANA
DAL
Final
DUR 3
NOR 2
 
7:05pm Tonight
NOR
DUR