And in that corner... The Western Michigan Broncos
It’ll be a historic Saturday at Notre Dame Stadium, when the first ever Mid-American Conference team takes on Notre Dame when the Irish play the Western Michigan Broncos. The match-up marks the first time the Irish have played Western Michigan since 1920, with the Irish blanking WMU 53-0 in 1919 and 41-0 in 1920.
With little knowledge of the Western Michigan squad, we’re turning to the dynamic duo of Zeke Trezevant and Chris Willis, who cover the Broncos for the Western Herald, the student newspaper at WMU. Zeke is a senior communications major that’s the sports editor for the paper and Chris is a senior political science and media communication major that covers the Bronco’s beat.
Consider this a double-dose of Broncos’ expertise, as the Irish get their first look at a MAC team as their neighbors from Kalamazoo head south with a team very fired up for their first trip to South Bend in 90 years.
Inside the Irish: Assess the season so far. Are the Broncos playing up to expectations or have the opening five games been a disappointment?
Chris Willis: The Broncos are a team that’s still finding its identity. I would say the season thus far has been disappointing, but we expect wins out of our program.
Zeke Trezevant: So far, the season has definitely not been what I thought it would or could be but thats because of the potential I know the team has.
ITI: It seems as if quarterback Alex Carder is the engine that runs the offense -- an offense that leads your conference. For those of us that haven’t watched him play, can you compare him to another college quarterback that plays in a higher-profile program?
CW: He’s really not comparable to any QB’s in college football that I can think of. He can run and throw well, but he’s a first year starter, so again, he’s still searching for his niche.
ZT: He has his own style to how he plays the game. The closest person I could compare his style to is Greg McElroy from Alabama. McElroy doesn’t throw the ball nearly as much as Carder does, but I think their styles are similar.
ITI: Not so long ago, Brian Kelly was coaching in the MAC. It may have been before your time, but do you think his experience within the conference is an advantage this Saturday?
CW: Yes, definitely. I feel that this goes both ways though. Although obviously Kelly has players that are far more superior.
ZT: Without a doubt. Coaches who have a familarity with a school is an advantage in itself, being familiar with a particular coach helps even more. I dont know how much it will matter this Saturday though. I’m sure coach Bill Cubit has thought of ways around it.
ITI: Kelly seems to have great respect for coach Bill Cubit. What have you seen out of him in his five seasons in Kalamazoo?
CW: Heart, respect, tradition, and most important a great MAC record. I hope he stays for a long while.
ZT: I’ve only been here for going on three seasons, but what I’ve seen is a coach who is down to earth. He’s a man’s man and knows how to work with what he’s been given. We’ve been to three bowl games in school history. He led us to two of them. I think that speaks for itself.
ITI: What does this game mean to Western Michigan? Is there a buzz on campus? Will a lot of people make the trip to South Bend? Do students and fans think the Broncos can spring the upset?
CW: It means a lot to be the first MAC school to ever play ND. There is a buzz, but we’re realist, so how happy can we really be?
ZT: This game means the world to WMU. Winning this game would be monumental for the season, especially coming off of last week’s win. I do feel that there is a certain buzz around campus. Its not overwhelming by any means but I do think that the average fan knows we’re playing Notre Dame and is excited about it. I’m not too sure how many fans will make it out but we’ll show up. As far as the upset, I think any true Bronco fan knows its a possibility. Crazier things have happened.
ITI: What’s the formula for a Western Michigan victory? Gut feeling on what happens?
CW: A flawless performance on all three facets of the game. not to mention 200 + yards on the ground to keep the Irish off of the field.
ZT: I expect it to be a close game either way. I think it’ll be a somewhat low scoring affair, but we’ll see.
A special thanks to both Chris and Zeke for making time in their busy schedules for a little advanced scouting. For more on this week’s game from the Broncos’ perspective, check out their work in the sports page at the Western Herald.