Western Michigan displayed a Mid-American Conference championship caliber defense in its 24-7 loss at Illinois Saturday afternoon.
The same can’t be said about the Broncos’ offense.
WMU’s defense kept the Broncos in the game, but their offense turned the ball over and over and over again … four times (three interceptions, fumble) in all.
How good was WMU’s defense? The Broncos limited the Illini to 248 total yards, 115 on the ground on 41 carries. They intercepted a pass in the end zone to prevent a scoring chance.
So, how bad was WMU’s offense? Well, senior Alex Carder – one of the top quarterbacks in the midwest – threw one interception in the first half while the Broncos were driving inside Illini territory while trailing 10-0.
In the third quarter, Eric Monette missed a pass from freshman receiver Jaime Wilson inside Illini territory with no defender within 10 yards of him. On the same series, Monette grabbed a pass for a first down, then fumbled, ending yet another drive.
The Broncos were still in the game early in the fourth, trailing 17-7. Carder had them driving when he threw a pick-6, looking directly at one receiver the entire time, leading to an Illini defender stepping in front and returning the interception 60 yards for a touchdown and 24-7 lead.
Carder completed 26-of-43 for 239 yards, but the turnovers were too much to overcome.
The Broncos do have a star in the making in Wilson who turned down a scholarship at Florida. Wilson had eight receptions, including a 8-yard TD grab during the final minute of the third quarter. And, his pass for Monette couldn’t have been better.
Monette and junior Josh Schaffer will have to step up and be more productive with Carder losing his top three receivers from a year ago, led by Jordan White who led the nation in receptions (140).
And, Carder has to make better decisions too if the Broncos have any chance of playing at Ford Field for the MAC title November 30.
Ohio showed it is the elite team in the East and possibly the entire MAC, and quarterback Tyler Tettleton the best player on the offensive side of the ball, scoring 21 unanswered points in a 24-14 win at Penn State.
Tettleton, son of former Tigers catcher Mickey Tettleton, led the comeback, throwing for two TDs and running for another during the second half. He finished with 324 yards passing, completing 31-of-41.
Carder was supposed to be one of the players fighting Tettleton for the MAC Offensive Player of the Year honors. We will see in the next few weeks if he is a legitimate contender.