Western Michigan vs. Purdue

Saturday marks the second time in school history that Western Michigan faces Purdue. So we decided to take a quick look at how the two teams match up.

Quarterbacks

The Broncos are currently in the middle of a major non-conference schedule, which saw the Broncos losing despite a good effort against Michigan 35-12. The Broncos are currently using a quarterback rotation system, using juniors Chad Munson and Jon Drach. Both quarterbacks had great fall camps and no clear-cut starter emerged, but Munson has made a statement early on in the young season. Munson has completed 29 of 44 passes for 396 yards, 6 touchdowns, and 1 interception. His 181.96-quarterback efficiency rating ranks in 6th in the country. Drach has completed 15 of 29 passes for 162 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception.

The Boilermakers in recent years have been a passing offense running a similar one back spread offense like the Broncos use. This year sophomore quarterback Kyle Orton it the Boilermakers starting quarterback. So far this season, Orton has completed 28 of 58 passes for 421 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 1 interception. Edge: WMU


Wide Receivers

Western Michigan has traditionally been deep amongst their receivers and in recent years Bronco quarterbacks have been able to spread the wealth. So far in 2002, nothing has proven to be anything different. Nine different receivers have caught at least 1 pass in against Indiana State and Michigan. On the season, 12 different receivers have caught at least one pass. Leading the way for the Broncos is senior tight end Mobolaji Afariogun and senior wide receiver Jermaine Lewis. Afariogun has caught 12 passes for 107 yards and 2 touchdowns and Lewis has caught 11 passes for 181 yards and 3 touchdowns (2 against a very tough Michigan defense).

Purdue has several capable receiver of their own as well and spread the wealth also. In the Boilermakers first two games Kyle Orton was able to complete at least 1 pass to 6 different receivers and on the season 8 receivers have caught at least 1 pass. Junior wide receiver John Standeford is Orton's favorite target and Purdue's favorite receiver. He has caught 9 passes for 196 yards and 2 touchdowns. Standeford is the only Purdue receiver with over 100 yards in receptions. Edge: WMU


Running Backs

Western Michigan's running game is led by junior running back Philip Reed. Against Indiana State, the Broncos had a tough time getting their running game going as no Bronco rushed for more than 24 yards. Against Michigan, the Broncos were able to start moving the ball on the ground and Reed led the way with 96 yards, getting some great blocking from a much-improved offensive line.

Purdue has a solid running back in junior Joey Harris. So far this season Harris has rushed for over 200 yards in back-to-back games for the Boilermakers. On the season he has rushed 48 times for 253 yards and 1 touchdown. Harris adds a factor for the Boilermakers that they have been looking for. Edge: Purdue


Offensive Line

The Broncos have an experienced group of student-athletes up front in the trenches. They are led by senior center Jake Gasaway. In fact, 4 of the 5 starters on the offensive line for the Broncos are seniors. The lone underclassman being sophomore Kyle Ras. The Broncos average height is 6'4" while their average weight is 289 pounds.

Purdue also has a strong and experienced offensive line with senior Gene Mruczkowski at center, senior Pete Lougheed and left tackle, and senior Rob Turner at right guard. Junior Nick Hardwick gets that start over senior Kelly Kitchel at left guard. The Boilermakers average height is 6'5" and their average weight is 292 pounds. Edge: Purdue


Defensive Line

Western Michigan is the deepest they have been in quite a while on the defensive line. A concern they had heading into the game with Michigan was being able to stop the run. They did a good job but still allowed Michigan to gain 220 yards on the ground. Senior Chris Browning and junior Jason Babin lead this talented group of lineman. On the season the Broncos have allowed their opponents an average of 187.5 rushing yards per game.

Purdue is starting 3 juniors and 1 senior on their defensive line. A defensive line that averages 6'3" in height and 227 pounds in weight. Junior Kevin Nesfield leads the Boilermakers defensive front line with 9 tackles, 4 tackles for a loss of 21 yards including 3 sacks for a loss of 20 yards and 1 forced fumble. Opponents have only been able to average 110.5 yards rushing per game against the Boilermakers defensive line. Edge: Purdue


Linebackers

The Broncos have an experienced linebacker corps that includes the 2001 Team MVP seniors Bryan Lape and Jason Malloy. Lape and Malloy are among the team leaders in tackles with 12 tackles apiece.

Purdue is deep among its linebacker unit and are led by juniors Niko Koutouvides and Landon Johnson, and senior Joe Odom. The three have recorded 15, 9, and 8 tackles respectively. In terms of height and weight, WMU and Purdue stack up evenly among the linebackers. Edge: WMU


Secondary

Western Michigan has allowed an average of 134 yards passing and has given up 4 touchdowns in the air. Junior Jason Feldpausch and senior Sam Reynolds lead a talented and deep secondary. Feldpausch has recorded 14 tackles, 1 interception, and 1 forced fumble while Reynolds has 10 tackles and 1 forced fumble.

Purdue has allowed an average of 101.5 passing yards a game and teams have scored only 1 touchdown in the air against them. Junior Stuart Schweigert is the defensive leader for this Boilermakers team. The All-American candidate owns the school record for interceptions with 11 and in his first two seasons led the team in tackles. This season Schweigert already has 12 tackles. Edge: Purdue


Special Teams

Western Michigan has a good special teams group that has made tremendous improvements over last season. Sophomore place kicker Robert Menchinger has improved his ability to hit longer field goals compared to his 30-35 yard range of a year ago. Punter Adam Anderson put in a lot of work over the offseason and his efforts paid off when he was awarded a scholarship before the start of the season. Anderson was playing with a sore back in the season opener, but he went into Michigan and boomed a 55-yard punt to give the indication that his back was no longer sore. Freshman Greg Jennings has been getting comfortable returning kicks for the Broncos averaging 22.3 yards a return. Junior Christopher Chestnut is listed as the Broncos punt return specialist and will share the duty with Greg Jennings. However good the kicking game is, the special teams coverage has had a more difficult time. In the opening game they allowed a 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. On the season they have allowed 308 yards on 10 kickoffs.

Purdue's special teams are made up of mostly juniors. Punter Brent Slaton has punted 12 times for 475 yards. His longest punt is 50 yards. Place kicker Berin Lacevic has been perfect connecting on all 8 of his PAT's and both of his field goal tries. Purdue has however had difficulty finding a kick return specialist. Montrell Lowe has returned two kicks for and average of 23 yards. Anthony Chambers leads the Boilermakers in punt returns. He has returned 4 punts for 101 yards and 1 touchdown. His longest is a 76-yard return. Purdue has a similar kick return coverage that Western Michigan has, they have allowed 258 yards on 12 returns. Edge: Even


Coaching

The Broncos are led by head coach Gary Darnell. Coach Darnell has led WMU to 4 consecutive winning seasons before finishing 5-6 in 2001. In 2 out of the last 3 season, the Broncos have competed in the MAC Championship game as the MAC West Division Champion. He was also listed as a finalist for the 2002 Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award.

Head Coach Joe Tiller leads the Boilermakers on the field. He instituted the spread offense at Purdue that has brought the Boilermakers 5 consecutive appearances including the Rose Bowl and 40 wins over five seasons. Edge: Purdue

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