DETROIT (WOOD) — The preseason media poll has Western Michigan finishing second in its division, but the Broncos say they can do better.
“We were one point away from going to the championship last year with the Ball State game,” third-year head coach Tim Lester said Tuesday at the Mid-American Conference Media Day in Detroit. “We win that game, we are in the championship.”
The defense will have to improve for that to happen, but the MAC is a quarterback conference. That’s where Grand Rapids South Christian product Jon Wassink, now a Western Michigan senior, comes in.
“I’m probably the one that puts the most pressure on myself,” Wassink said.
This is the second time he’s returning after the offseason from a season-ending injury. With him starting, the Broncos won seven of nine conference games. If he can stay healthy through November, there’s no reason to think the Broncos won’t make it to the MAC West title game.
“I’m hoping for Jon. He’s a great kid. He’s was pretty much leading the league in both categories when he got hurt two years in a row. It’s his senior year. He’s worked hard to get back,” Lester said. “Jon knows exactly what I’m looking for when I call a play so I can call a really aggressive game.”
Including Wassink, Lester has got 20 returning seniors, which puts his roster in pretty good shape.
“We were so close last year but so close just isn’t good enough. We are going to bury that, swallow it, and keep it in the back of our mind,” one of those seniors, linebacker Najee Clayton, said.
”As an offense, it takes everyone being on the same page and a mentality of taking it one play at a time and focusing on the details,” Wassink said. “As a team, we really have a lot of confidence and we know we can make it back here in December. It’s just a matter of doing it and executing.”
On the other end of the spectrum, Central Michigan was picked to finish last in the MAC West. The Chippewas are trying not to let it get to them.
“It’s not a lot of fun to be picked last,” first-year head coach Jim McElwain said. “I guess you have to start somewhere, right?”
“Pickers pick. Players play and coaches coach. Picks are just picks. They can’t win games for you,” senior defensive back Da’Quaun Jamison said.