With less than a week remaining before the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, Mountain West Connection wanted to reach out to a Western Michigan blogger to get some information on how the MAC opponents were viewing this game and a little more about the Broncos. We found Hustle Belt writer Brandon Fitzsimons who covers Western Michigan, and he was more than willing to answer some of our questions about the upcoming bowl game matchup.
Mountain West Connection - Jarvion Franklin was the Rookie and Offensive Player of the Year for the MAC. What makes him a special player to accomplish that feat, how does Western Michigan use him in their offense and who would be a running back that you would compare to his running style?
Hustle Belt (BF) - Franklin is a solid back with a lot of power. He'll run defenders over, and he still has solid speed in the open field. That said, he's rarely used in the passing game, especially with Corey Davis and Daniel Braverman as solid options in their own right. Franklin has gotten a ton of carries, and he's played his last three games with a sprained ankle. He'll be healthy, and the last time he was in Idaho, he put up 211 yards and 3 scores, all on the ground. I'd probably compare him to a Jerome Bettis in that "has a ton of power, but can still turn on the burners every now and then" kind-of-way.
Mountain West Connection - Western Michigan's defense had 15 players record at least half a sack this season. Is that a sign of the style of defense the team runs and who are some of the standout players on the defensive side of the ball?
Hustle Belt (BF) The defensive box is very young and sees a lot of rotation in and out with the younger players. Keep in mind, Fleck brought in a lot of these kids in his highly touted recruiting class last off-season. The secondary is full of upperclassmen, and you'll see players like Donald Celiscar and Justin Currie look to lock down any of the (rare) pass attempts the Falcons should attempt. However, the Bronco run defense has been fairly solid all season, especially compared to some of the awful performances in recent seasons.
Mountain West Connection - Has Western Michigan faced any teams in their non-conference or conference schedule that plays the type of triple option offense Air Force employs? How do you expect Western Michigan to deal with the option attack?
Hustle Belt (BF) The Broncos have not faced the triple option offense in some time. However, I think this team and how they attack the ball on defense is the best Western Michigan team to face it since early in the Cubit era. With a solid secondary, the defense will be box heavy, so it'll come down to if the young players still have gas left in the tank after playing so well so far this year.
Mountain West Connection - What is your prediction for the game?
Hustle Belt (BF) I get that Air Force is a good team. They beat Boise State AND Colorado State? Bravo, seriously. But this team also is 3-3 away from Colorado Springs, including a loss at Wyoming (albeit at the beginning of the season). Western Michigan has won 5 of their last 6 road games, and four straight in conference play including bowl teams like Central Michigan and Bowling Green. The first win in that stretch? Winning at the Kibbie Dome against (an admittedly bad) Idaho team. But when your opponent's only road wins are Army, UNLV, and Georgia State? I'm feeling confident in the Road Warrior Factor: WMU 38, Air Force 27
We here at Mountain West Connection would like to thank Brandon and the folks over at Hustle Belt for their help in gathering the bowl game information on Western MIchigan. For all your MAC football information, head over to their blog and give them a read.