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Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Western Michigan Breakdown

By Thomas Hiley | November 12, 2015
Offense Quarterback: The Broncos' passing offense ranks first in the MAC with 290 yards per game and 15th overall in the nation. Quarterback Alex Carder has played like a passing wizard, throwing for close to 2,000 yards with 15 touchdowns and nine interceptions. NIU head coach Jerry Kill is familiar with Carder, having Kansas ties and was even interested in recruiting him. "He can run a little bit, can throw it and is very well coached with some good mechanics," Kill said.Grade: B Running back: Western Michigan running back Aaron Winchester doesn't get a lot of love in the backfield. Since Western Michigan is so pass-heavy, they don't rely on the ground game but that isn't going to stop Kill from his game plan to silence their run game. "They always have two or three receivers who will make your life difficult," Kill said. "And about time you think that's all they're going to do, they run for 150."Grade: C- Wide Receivers: Huskies' starting corners Patrick George and Chris Smith better be on their game Saturday afternoon. The Broncos' receiving core is headlined by All-MAC preseason pick Jordan White. The senior leads Western Michigan in receiving yards with 758 and is tied with fellow upperclassman Juan Nunez with five scores through the air.Grade: B + Offensive line: Left tackle Anthony Parker is the anchor of the Broncos' offensive line. The junior made the All-MAC preseason team and is a listed at 6'4" and 332 pounds. The interior of Western Michigan's line consist of all seniors in guards Phillip Swanson, Nick Clemens and center Nick Mitchell. Defense Defensive line: Defensive end Paul Hazel leads the Broncos with 5.5 sacks while ranking fifth on the team in tackles. Hazel resides from Florida, an area that Kill said that Western Michigan has plucked players from. "Defensively, they've gone to Florida, Georgia and recruited a ton of people," Kill said. "They are athletic as all get out on defense."Grade: C+ Linebackers: Besides Hazel, outside linebacker Dex Jones is the Broncos' second best pass rusher ranking second on the team with four sacks. Containing this pass rushing combination will be critical for NIU to establish themselves on offense. Inside linebacker Mitch Zajac has played strictly like a tackling machine by not recording any other defensive statistic.Grade: C Secondary: Jamail Berry plays the "rover" position, which requires him to play both in the secondary and linebacker level. Berry leads Western Michigan with 47 total tackles. Cornerback Lewis Tolers leads the Broncos with three interceptions . Western Michigan ranks fourth in the MAC in pass defense allowing close to 200 yards per game.Grade: C+ Special Teams: Huskies' punt block guru Jimmie Ward will have an opportunity to block one of the MAC's best punters in Ben Armer. The junior is averaging 41.5 yards a boot. Kicker John Potter has connected on six of seven field goal attempts while hitting all 29 of his point after attempts.  
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