2018 Western Michigan football projections on the Hour Glass
By Peyton Aldridge
After finishing 6-6 competing in the MAC under new Head Coach Tim Lister, who is also a former QB for WMU, the Broncos are looking to have a break out season in 2018. This year they get back QB Joe Wassink who was injured much of last year. They do lose 7 starters on the defensive side of the ball and rank 107th in returning production but looking at what they return shows that there will possibly be a bright side for this 2018 season. So, let’s take a look!
QB Joe Wassink
RB Jamauri Bogan
WR D’Wayne Eskridge
C John Keenoy
DT Antonio Balabani
RB Jarvion Franklin
OT Chukwuma Okorafor
CB Darius Phillips
OLB Asantay Brown
MLB Robert Spillane
Thankfully for the Broncos in 2018, they get QB Joe Wassink back under center. Wassink suffered a broken collarbone in 2017 and the Broncos looked lost without him. Before being injured Wassink passed for 1391 yards with 14 TDs to just 4 INTs. Wassink gets back 2 of his favorite targets in WR D’Wayne Eskridge and Keishawn Watson. Eskridge and Watson will be essential in getting this offense going but the Broncos also have a few newcomers at the WR spot in Tyron Arnett and Drake Harris. They look to improve in downfield passing and in busting out the big play. The offense was very efficient in 2017 but had almost no big plays down the field. The Broncos lose their top rusher from the 2017 season with Jarvion Franklin moving on to the NFL but look for Jamauri Boggan to be the man to fill his spot. Boggan, though slightly undersized, shows all the raw talent to fit the spot and may even be huge catching passes out of the backfield. WMU loses star OT Chukwuma Okorafor but returns 2 of the best offensive lineman in the MAC in C John Keenoy and OG Luke Juriga. This offensive line will be huge in how far this offense goes as I look for it to be an air attack for Tim Lister’s offense. I see WMU being one of the top 3 offenses in the MAC for this 2018 season.
Offensive Newcomer to Watch
WR Drake Harris- Harris is a grad transfer from Michigan where he played both WR and DB. Harris is a speedy guy but also shows great hands. With a little work on his route running and downfield blocking, he could end up being one of the top receivers in this Broncos offense.
Though this defense loses 7 starters from last year’s club, there is plenty of upside to go around. On the line, they return 3 key players from last year’s club including top pass rushers Antonio Balabani and Eric Assoua on the outside. Those 2 combined for 6 sacks last year and will look to build from that this season. They lose stud DT Steven Clark due to an injury this year but look for a heavy rotation of players in the nose guard spot. Losing 3 linebackers will be no easy task to replace. Na’jee Clayton will get to play this year after transferring from Rutgers and look for Alex Grace and Drake Spears to also compete for the starting spots. Through spring, there is still no clear winners for any of the LB spots so that will be something to keep an eye on as fall practice begins. In the secondary, losing star CB and stud return man Darius Phillips leaves a hole but look for Sam Beal to be the number 1 guy. Beal has the potential to be All MAC and be a day 1 guy in the draft, but they will need more than just him in the secondary. Stefan Claiborne is a rising star and will the man to look out for in one of the 2 safety spots. Much of the success of this 2018 year will fall in the defenses hands. The offense looks poised to break out, but can the defense follow suit?
Defensive Newcomer to Watch
ATH Dashon Bussell- It is unclear which side of the ball Bussell with play but with the holes in the defense, he may spend his 2018 season there. He is a ballhawk and can play any position in the secondary and can even come up and blitz with authority. If Bussell ends up on this side of the ball, look for him to be involved early.
My 2018 Outlook
I see a ton of bright spots on this offense and as I said above, they will be one of the best in the MAC. I believe QB Joe Wassink has a breakout year and they flash signs of greatness. I just don’t think there is enough there on defense for them to make a run yet. They did sign 19 3-star recruits in there 2018 class so look for a lot of young talent to be playing. I’m not to high on the 2018 season but the MAC better watch out for this Bronco team in 2018. I think they one up last year’s win total and finish the year at 7-5 with a bowl berth. Best of luck Broncos.
2018 Hour Glass Outlook for Western Michigan; 10-2
Hour Glass National Recruiting Ranking: 75th – outside our College Football Playoff Bust Line on our talent index.
National Coaching Rank for Tim Lester on HG Scale: 80th (Lester Stamp at 0) – Average coaching value for 2018 set at 3.75.
Returning Western Michigan quarterback play rated 43rd in the country out of 130 teams. Average quarterback stamp nationally for 2018 is 8.3. Western Michigan has a stamp of 12.4.