Western Michigan Broncos Football: 2015 Season Preview


Season preview for P.J. Fleck’s Western Michigan Broncos for the 2015 campaign as they look to compete with the best in the MAC and win a championship.

The 2014 season for Western Michigan showed marked improvement for the Broncos in the second year under head coach P.J. Fleck, but then again they could only go up after a 1-11 season in 2013.

That 2013 season was rife with inexperience, inconsistent performances, injuries and a general lack of discipline and as a result it was the worst record in a decade. But there was a dramatic improvement in 2014 and the Broncos went 8-5 and Fleck was named the MAC Coach of the Year after winning seven more games than the year before.

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Western Michigan finished second in the MAC West, a full game behind Northern Illinois and Toledo with a 6-2 league mark and now the challenge for Fleck is taking another step and competing for the MAC Championship.

Offensive Outlook

Nine starters return from an offense that averaged 33.8 points per game, including quarterback Zach Terrell who led the conference in passing efficiency with a 164.4 mark. He threw for 3,443 yards and 26 touchdowns to only 10 interceptions and he should improve on those numbers with his two favorite targets returning in Corey Davis and Daniel Braverman who led the conference in receiving yards and receptions, respectively.

Davis had 78 catches for 1,408 yards and 15 touchdowns and Braverman had 86 catches for 997 yards and six touchdowns last year and the dynamic duo looks to continue where they left off.

Luckily for Terrell, Davis and Braverman they won’t have to do all the heavy lifting because the reigning MAC Offensive Player of the Year, running back Jarvion Franklin returns after a sensational freshman year. The 6-1, 220-pound back rushed for 1,551 yards, the second most among freshmen and his 24 touchdowns led all freshmen and was the fourth most in the nation.

With three returning starters on the offensive line, Franklin should find plenty of running room to avoid a sophomore slump as he looks for a second straight MAC Offensive Player of the Year honor.

Defensive Outlook

The defense shaved 10 points off their average points allowed from 2013 in 2014 when they allowed 24.9 point per game, good for 43rd best in the country, but while the offense returns most of its starters, the defense isn’t so lucky.

Notable players gone from the unit are All-MAC defensive backs Justin Currie and Donald Celiscar but the toughest player to replace could be former Michigan transfer and nose tackle Richard Ash whose size was instrumental in plugging holes in the interior of the defense. Nick Matich and David Curie will have to play a big role in the Broncos rush defense this year to avoid being run all over this year.

Cleveland Smith led the team with 5.5 sacks but three of them came against Idaho, so a big more consistency will be needed from the undersized defensive lineman this year.

Middle linebacker Grant DePalma was all over the field and led the team in tackles but he’ll be tested without Ash keeping blockers off him that allowed him to make plays at a high rate. Look for Robert Spillane to make a big improvement this at the weak-side linebacker spot.

The front seven is undersized but it’s also very fast and their team speed will have to cause for opposing offenses. The secondary was the strength of the defense last year with Donald Celiscar, Ronald Zamort, Rontavious Atkins and Justin Currie but Currie and Celiscar are gone so Asantay and Deontae Brown will have to play bigger roles this year as sophomores.


Western Michigan may have improved too much last year that expectations may be a little overzealous in anticipation of the 2015 year. They boast one of the best offenses in the Group of Five and will need that unit to win games for them this year with the defense relying on a lot of players who haven’t played much before.

They may be a better team in 2016 but win fewer games than last year because of a gauntlet of a non-conference schedule that begins with a home date with Michigan State, road game at Georgia Southern who went 9-3 last year and a road trip with the defending national champions at Ohio State. In conference play, the Broncos finish their regular season with a three-game stretch that will define their season with a home game against defending MAC champion Bowling Green and then road games at Northern Illinois and Toledo.

Eight wins may be a touch optimistic this year but with this offense, they’ll be in every game, and another bowl game should be in store for Fleck’s team.

Next: Top 15 Coaches Without a National Championship

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