With this weekend’s game against UMass, the Western Michigan Football Team begin their final stretch of games for 2013 with the team still searching for win number one. However, this weekend’s matchup is exactly what the Broncos need as they continue to fight to get P.J. Fleck his first win as a head coach. The Broncos head to Gillette Stadium on Saturday afternoon to take on the UMass Minutemen (1-6, 1-2 MAC) in just the second ever matchup between the two schools. The Broncos took care of business last year, defeating the Minutemen 52-14 in their only other meeting. Kick-off is set for 3 pm.
Five Keys to Victory
1. Convert on third down – We all know of the Broncos’ struggles on offense this season and one of the glaring stats that demonstrates just how bad they’ve been is their 3rd down conversion rate. The offense is only successfully converting 24.8% of their third downs, including a 3 for 14 performance last week against Ball State.
2. Protect the ball – The other glaring discouraging offensive stat is the Broncos turnover rate. The Broncos rank last in the Mid-American Conference with a turnover margin of -12 including 16 interceptions thrown. Zach Terrell looks to be making his third start of the year and has been better with the more playing time he’s received. Terrell had only one interception against Ball State, coming on a Hail Mary attempt at the end of the first half.
3. Stop the run – WMU is allowing nearly 260 yards per game on the ground. UMass has been ineffective running the ball, totaling more than 100 in a game just three times. The Broncos defense has been worn down towards the end of games and keeping their defense off the field will go a long way in securing their first win of the year.
4. Establish a #2 receiver – With the Broncos lacking depth at the wide receiver position Corey Davis has been the focal point for opposing defenses. While the opposition hasn’t been able stop the true freshman, only contain him, no other receiver has really stepped up their game. As mentioned before, Terrell has improved with every snap he’s taken, but he must find others to get the ball to other than Davis. Terrill needs to target Kendrick Roberts, Timmy Keith and Josh Schaffer more often to keep the Minutemen secondary honest.
5. Start fast, finish fast – The Broncos are yet to lead at halftime and their largest lead has been only three points. WMU has a chance to get its first win of the season this weekend but must establish an early lead and fend off an upstart UMass team.
Prediction: WMU 24 UMass 20