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Western Michigan vs NIU: A Primer for Homecoming 2009

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Kalamazoo is the closest city to Dekalb that houses a MAC squad being 3 1/2 hours away.  They like to make inroads recruiting in the Chicago area, especially now that long-time NIU recruiting coordinator Mike Sabock has taken the same position east down I-94.  The Broncos have also been our homecoming opponent both in 2007 and in 2003.  The 2003 game was the most highly-attended game in Northern Illinois history with a total of 28,221 fans coming out to support the Huskies.

If Western Illinois is NIU's little brother than Western Michigan would have to be that kid that you beat up, who goes away for a little while and then comes up with some creative new strategies to beat you up yourself.  Then he becomes king of the playground until you gather yourself and start controlling the turf again.  What am I talking about?

  • 1950-1982: 15-1 WMU
  • 1983-1988: 5-0 NIU
  • 1991-2000: 6-0 WMU
  • 2001-2005: 5-0 NIU
  • 2006-08: 3-0 WMU

Overall, we have an 11-23 overall record against the Broncos.  I like the 10-9 since 1983 stat personally though.  '83 was Mallory's last big year and we even beat Western the year after that with Lee Corso as our coach.  In the 1990's we were bad, until Coach Novak started turning things around.  Gary Darnell left WMU in 2004 and current HC Bill Cubit took the reigns and supremacy over the Huskies in these last few years.

Cubit was OC for WMU from 1997-99, went to Mizzou for a year and then had 2-year stints at both Rutgers & Stanford before landing back in Kalamazoo as the head ball coach.

Flashback to 2006: Garrett Wolfe has rattled off 10+ games of 150 yds or more until we come rolling in to Kalamazoo on what seems like a harmless game.  We've beaten WMU every year, so that trend should continue right?  Well, Wolfe got held to only 25 yds on 18 carries and the rest was history.  Phil Horvath had 3 interceptions and was sacked 3x, while WR Britt Davis was the main offensive contributor.  There goes the Heisman & there goes the MAC West.  Does that make you cringe?  Final score: 14-16.

2007 (Vintage RABA Recap): WMU was homecoming back then too and we came in to the game with a 1-5 record and almost beat the Broncos 13-17.  It was the beginning of the Ryan Morris show at QB.  This was the game where on a fake MPZ miraculously got off that deep pass for a TD.  A couple interesting thoughts I had that day:

  • Crowd was 23K. So that means its a plus 4,000 to 5,000 fans if we actually have a good football team.
  • #15 QB Ryan Morris has no arm. He's a poor man's Phil Horvath. Not even that. I still heard "Nicholson Sucks" chants in the crowd when he wasn't even playing lol. There were men open that he couldn't even get the ball. Embarrassing.
  • Again, I'm very surprised that Joe Novak seems to keep Justin Anderson in there for every play. He just doesn't have that breakaway speed or any other attributes that make him special like a Wolfe or a Turner. I would like to see the other speed backs get a look. Outside runs with Justin Anderson just aren't going to work because his speed isn't good enough.

2008 (Vintage RABA Recap): I actually made the trip up to K-Zoo that year for the game and it was a great time.  It only took me 5 days to get a recap up for some reason.  1st quarter of the game, the man that became an instant star against Minnesota the week before, Chandler Harnish, went down with an ankle injury.  For the rest of the game, we had to use a mix of Dan Nicholson and Britt Davis.  Neither were effective though, as Nicholson got sacked 4 times whereas Grady only ran the ball.  On the ground #3 was pretty effective scoring a TD and averaging over 6 ypc.  One thing of note was that stellar LG Jason Onyebuagu didn't play in the game last year, which may have added to the problems moving the ball offensively.

Overall, starting your second road game in a row, in-conference, with a rotating door at QB, with one of your best WRs not making the trip, with a new coach, with an inconsistent running game, with a freshman at LT is not going to be a good situation.

We actually outgained the Broncos 439-384 despite losing 26-29.  The problem?  Settling for FGs instead of TDs.  Sound familiar?  Just like Idaho.  RB Brandon West tore us apart rushing for 175 yds on just 25 carries.  WMU QB Tim Hiller tossed the ball around for 186 yds and 3 TDs.  A key contributor in last years game in Jamarko Simmons who had 8 catches for 102 yds and a TD has since graduated to the NFL.

Reading Material

HuskieWire Writer's Bloc with WMU Beat Writer Graham Couch

NStar's Offensive Breakdown of WMU

NStar's Defensive Breakdown of WMU

So far this season

9/05 @ Michigan 0-1 (0-0) L 31-7
9/12 @ Indiana 0-2 (0-0) L 23-19
9/19 Miami (OH) 1-2 (1-0) W 48-26
9/26 Hofstra 2-2 (1-0) W 24-10


@ Michigan: Just domination all around by the Wolverines.  Any types of yards or points by the Broncos happened well after UM was up 31-0.  WR Juan Nunes had a nice 73 yd TD and that was it for the WMU offense.  They averaged 1.6 ypc rushing in this game.

@ Indiana: This was a very odd game where each team wanted to give away the win to the opponent.  The Hoosiers settled for 3 FGs and a missed FG whenever they got in to redzone situations.  This plus 13 penalties for 106 yds allowed the Broncos to get back in to the game.  WMU would have won it too, if they didn't fumble the ball 3 times on their last 3 possessions, allowing IU to get a safety and control the ball until the clock ran out.  Total yds were 372-288 in favor of IU.  Hiller had to pass the ball around again and rushing was only .8 ypc!

vs Miami: The score is deceiving because WMU got up to 35-0 early in the 3rd quarter.  And then 6-48 later in the 3rd.  Of course the Redhawks pretty much gave the Broncos the game giving them the ball 4x on the ground and once through the air.  Plus 10 penalties for 77 yds.  You have to hand it to Miami for fighting hard in garbage time, eventually coming in front of the yardage stat 421-370.

vs Hofstra: Just a lackluster performance against an FCS opponent that didn't have anything special to bring to the table.  Early on, WMU couldn't convert a 4th down, threw an interception and settled for a field goal.  The Pride managed to stick around until before the end of the 1st half, in which Brandon West ran it in after a long drive by the Broncos.  The second half was sloppy too with Western fumbling the ball on both of their first 2 possessions in the 3rd quarter.

09_29_2009 WMU Broncos Football Press Conference

National Rankings

Category National
Actual National
Actual Conf
Conference Leader
Rushing Offense 113 86.25 Air Force 319.00 11 Northern Ill. 188.00
Passing Offense 21 271.25 Hawaii 423.33 3 Toledo 320.50
Total Offense 73 357.50 Texas A&M 574.33 5 Toledo 473.25
Scoring Offense T-81 24.50 Texas 49.50 4 Central Mich. 32.75
Rushing Defense 84 157.00 Oklahoma 40.67 4 Central Mich. 113.00
Pass Efficiency Defense 74 129.77 Florida 75.31 9 Eastern Mich. 79.69
Total Defense 95 390.25 North Carolina St. 201.25 11 Central Mich. 274.00
Scoring Defense T-54 22.50 Oklahoma 4.67 3 Central Mich. 16.75
Net Punting 64 35.78 BYU 43.70 6 Ball St. 40.19
Punt Returns 66 8.00 Louisiana Tech 45.50 6 Central Mich. 17.90
Kickoff Returns 32 25.00 Stanford 41.67 3 Temple 28.15
Turnover Margin 91 -.75 Arizona St. 3.33 10 Ohio 1.00
Pass Defense 85 233.25 Eastern Mich. 78.00 11 Eastern Mich. 78.00
Passing Efficiency 51 134.76 Hawaii 180.65 3 Buffalo 143.97
Sacks T-48 2.00 Texas A&M 4.67 2 Temple 2.67
Tackles For Loss 96 4.50 Oklahoma 11.33 11 Kent St. 7.00
Sacks Allowed T-71 2.00 Iowa St. .50 6 Toledo .75



Offense - Rushing offense is terrible, but that doesn't mean RB Brandon West isn't a home run threat every time he touches the football.

Defense - Rush D is 84th nationally, but still 4th in the MAC?  How bout those MAC defenses.  You can pass on these Broncos and overall they are 95th nationally and 11th in the conference in defense.  We should be able to pick our spots pretty good, because it's not like WMU's played some of the top offenses out there excluding Michigan in their debut.  Bring a lot of pressure.

Special Teams/Other - Brandon West is their kickoff return specialist and he does a great job putting the Broncos in good field position.  Turnovers will be huge in this game, because WMU likes to give the ball up a lot on the ground and sometimes through the air as well.

Impact Players

Category Player National
Rushing Brandon West T-57 74.00
Passing Efficiency (Min. 15 Att./Game) Tim Hiller 52 136.88
Total Offense Tim Hiller 34 249.75
  Brandon West   74.00
Receptions Per Game Jordan White T-32 6.00
  Juan Nunez T-40 5.75
  Robert Arnheim T-78 4.50
  Chleb Ravenell   3.75
Receiving Yards Per Game Juan Nunez 36 85.25
  Jordan White T-81 63.00
  Chleb Ravenell   46.75
  Robert Arnheim   42.25
Interceptions Jamail Berry   .25
  Deshon Lawrence   .25
Punting (Min. 3.6 Punts/Game) Ben Armer 73 37.89
Punt Returns (Min. 1.2 Ret./Game)      
Kickoff Returns (Min. 1.2 Ret./Game) Brandon West 36 26.07
Field Goals John Potter T-99 .50
Scoring John Potter   4.50
  Brandon West   4.50
  Juan Nunez   4.50
All-Purpose Runners Brandon West 4 192.50
  Juan Nunez   85.25
  Jordan White   76.33
Sacks Cody Cielenski T-30 .75
  Vernon Stewart   .25
  Austin Pritchard   .25
  Paul Hazel   .25
Tackles Austin Pritchard T-21 10.00
Tackles For Loss Cody Cielenski   1.00
  Austin Pritchard   .88



The usual suspects in QB Tim Hiller and RB Brandon West are effective on offense.  The deep threat at WR is Juan Nunez, who is questionable WILL NOT PLAY this week with a knee bruise.  WR Jordan White sees a lot of grabs, but is more of a posession guy.  Let's see here...Brandon West, Brandon West, hmm I think we should watch out for Brandon West.  Our kicking game and special teams coverage has to be sharp this week.

The O-Line needs to watch out for Cielinski on the defensive line and make sure he doesn't get in to the backfield.  Austin Pritchard is Mr. Productive at the weakside LB position.  A huge loss for the Broncos on this side of the ball is nickelback Doug Wiggins, who remains suspended for disciplinary reasons.  That brings their depth in the secondary down extremely as Wiggins is one of their most talented players and a transfer from THE U of Miami.

The Gameplan

Play physical both on defense and on offense.  This game will be won in the trenches and on special teams play.  Hold on to the ball.  Make sure to get pressure on Hiller so he doesn't have all day to throw.  Keep an eye on RB Brandon West at all times and make tackles.  Fundamentals and execution were Coach Kill's words of the week and it's time for these Huskies to give a homecoming performance nobody will forget!