Rebounding From Devastation

Following the worst loss in WMU history, a 63-0 pounding at the hands of Virginia Tech, the Broncos must regroup and learn from their mistakes before taking on Big Ten opponent Illinois. Gary Darnell, Tyson DeVree and Josh Behrens talked to the media today about what can be learned from the loss to the Hokies and how the team will move forward this week.

The Western Michigan football team came home from their huge loss not simply disappointed in losing so badly, but "it was a little humiliating," said linebacker Josh Behrens. A loss like that has the potential to demoralize a team if players dwell on the negatives. "It was defiantly tough. We just have to rebound and move on. It hurt, but we have to do what it takes to get better."

"You can't live in the past, good or bad," said Gary Darnell adding, "I don't think you forget it either. I know there were things to learn from a good standpoint and certainly from a bad standpoint. [Games like this loss] are games that can build good teams and break bad teams. It'll be really interesting to see where this team goes from here."

"It's gut check time," said Tyson DeVree. "We've had a lot of team building over the summer and we've come together well as a team. Through the ups and downs we can become a team."

The Broncos came out of the game appearing to be quite banged up with Blayne Baggett, Trovon Riley and Andy Endemann all leaving the game at different points with injuries. "We actually came out pretty well," said Darnell. "We only lost one player [Endemann] for the season." Riley was able to rejoin the team on the sidelines during the game and Baggett is expected to fully recover this week.

With Baggett recovering this week Ryan Cubit will be able to take more reps in practice and by default may start against Illinois. Darnell was quick to point out that Baggett is still the number one quarterback but because he will see less practice time while he recovers that may force a situation where Cubit is the starter.

The biggest positive to be taken from the game was the ability to move the ball offensively against a very good Virginia Tech defense. "We moved the ball the whole game against them," said DeVree. "Still you have to get the ball into the end zone."

The most obvious negative from the game is the big goose egg on the scoreboard for the Broncos. "The big thing we learned is there are no little mistakes against a team like that," said Darnell. And mistakes cost the Broncos in a big way Saturday with turnovers that led directly to scores for the Hokies.

But now it is time for the Broncos to move on and look forward to the Illinois Fighting Illini. WMU will meet Illinois for just the second time in school history.

"They are 50-50. They are going to balance the run and the pass 50-50," said Darnell. "They can spread it out and they can wad it up with 2-back sets."

Illinois is coming off of a 35-17 loss to UCLA, but showed tremendous potential in the game with 456 yards of offense on the backs of Jon Beutjer and Brad Bower who split quarterbacking duties. In the game Kendrick Jones had a 110-yard receiving day and E.B. Halsey had a 97-yard running day. "They put up [456] yards against a west coast team which is not easy to do," said Behrens.

Defensively Illinois will look very familiar as "by in large it's [the same defense as] Northern Illinois," said Darnell. "They hired a couple Northern Illinois guys and adopted their style of defense. They're still growing into [their defense] and what that means is they'll be a little simpler and more aggressive in how they do things down there."

On defense the Illini are led by CB Kelvin Hayden, who has 17 tackles on the season, and LB Matt Sinclair with 16 tackles this season. So far this season Illinois has had an average defense allowing over 170 yards rushing per game and over 245 passing yards per game so far this season.

Darnell added, "this is a game we look forward to playing just like anyone else."

"You don't get a chance to play a Big Ten team that often," said DeVree, "and to go in there and get a chance to make your mark is a great thing."

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