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Know A Foe : Western Michigan

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 12 Western Michigan at Ball State Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Buffalo survived Old Dominion and walked out with a win. That set up UB with a 2-2 out of conference record coming out of conference play. For a team that had a whole sale coaching change in June, and who dealt with the portal taking quite a few components this is not a bad spot to be in.

Maurice Linguist is positioned to become the first coach who leads the Bulls to a winning season, in his first season, since Bob Deming took over the team in 1968. But to do that he will have to find five MAC wins in the coming eight games.

First up is Western Michigan, and the Bronco’s are playing some of the best football in the conference right now.

WMU is 3-1, their only loss came in week one against Michigan. After that they beatup their FCS opponents, went into Pitt and stole a win from an ACC squad, and then completely shut down San Jose state at home.

San Jose State finished last year ranked #24 and returned 19 starters, so beating them as convincingly as the Bronco’s did should be noted.

On Offense

The Bronco’s run a pretty balanced attack, they lean a little bit more towards running the ball (174 carries against 124 passes) but most of that is the Bronco’s being in a position to use up clock to seal a win.

If they need to pass they are loaded. Kaleb Eleby is on pace to push 3,000 yards passing this season, he has seven touchdowns and has not been picked off once. More worriesome for Buffalo is that he’s very good at spreading the wealth among his receivers.

Western Michigan has three receivers who are over 12 receptions and 200 yards and four Bronco’s have caught at least one touchdown pass this season. They are really going to push the entire UB secondary from the word go.

The good news is that Eleby is not a great runner. Buffalo has struggled with dual threat quarterbacks and while WMU can dissect you through the air, they are not likely to roll off a 40+ yard touchdown scramble. The Bronco’s have given up nine sacks so far this season which is not terrible, but is promising for the UB pass rush.

WMU has a runnning back committee of Seas Tyler and La’Darius Jefferson. What they’ve done this season is very intimidating.

NAME ATT YDS AVG LNG TD
Sean Tyler 51 282 5.5 34 2
La'Darius Jefferson 62 274 4.4 21 6

Both are on pace for 1,000 yards, and Jefferson is on pace for 20+ touchdowns.

If WMU get’s the run game going they will use play action to help keep Eleby comfortable in the pocket and things can get out of hand very fast.

It’s going to be up to the front seven to not miss tackles so that the secondary does not have to worry about the play action passes. getting to Eleby is possible, but more often than not you’re going to need decent coverage to give the pass rush time because WMU has one of the better offensive lines in the conference.

On Defense

To this point in the season no defender has managed to get to Kyle Van Trease. The Bronco’s have the weapons to do it, should UB’s line not be at their best.

WMU has 15 sacks this season and five Bronco’s have more than one. The big threats are Ali Fayad (4 sacks) and Ralph Holley (3.5 sacks), but six other players have gotten their hands on a quarterback this season.

If the defense does have a weakness it’s the secondary. They have had issues, against Pitt they gave up more than 400 yards and six touchdowns. The Bronco’s only won in Pitt because their offense was able to come close to that production in the air and also played better running the ball than the Panthers.

So the recipe seems to be, be effective in the run game and keep the WMU pass rush out of KVT’s face. The concerning part of this is that UB’s running game looked terrible last week and the WMU defense is far better than that of Old Dominion.

editors note (I had intended to say that if Linguist finishes the year with a winning record he wqould be the first coach since the 60’s to do that IN THEIR FIRST YEAR).