Thursday, October 22, 2020

Western Michigan is up to the task against Michigan State's run defense

September 3, 2019
<p>Junior linebacker Riley Bullough sacks Western Michigan quarterback Zach Terrell on during a game against Western Michigan on Sept. 4, 2015 at Waldo Stadium in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The Spartans beat the Broncos, 37-24. Julia Nagy/The State News</p>

Junior linebacker Riley Bullough sacks Western Michigan quarterback Zach Terrell on during a game against Western Michigan on Sept. 4, 2015 at Waldo Stadium in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The Spartans beat the Broncos, 37-24. Julia Nagy/The State News

Photo by Julia Nagy | The State News

Western Michigan Head Coach Tim Lester is well aware of Tulsa's rushing performance against No. 18 Michigan State last Friday night. So much so, all he could do was laugh about it when asked how his Broncos will manage to run against a Spartan defense that gave up negative 73 yards in its first game.

"It will be a heck of a challenge," Lester said on his weekly coach's conference call. "When you get to play a defense that's top-five in the country or whatever you want to call them, nothing comes easy. You've got to earn every yard you get. You've got to get rid of the ball quick. You got to make decisions. You can't hold the ball. The Tulsa quarterback held it a little bit, and he paid the price."

WMU opened its season with a 48-13 win against Monmouth. The Broncos' senior running back LeVante Bellamy carried the ball 18 times for only 53 yards and a touchdown. Lester said that the Hawks' defense really sold on the run and forced the Broncos to air the ball out, which may have caused Bellamy's low-yardage total. Regardless, Lester believes his offense will be ready to go against MSU's run-stuffing defense.

"To run it against this crew is not easy. I know our offensive line is going to be up for it, and I'm sure Bellamy will be ready to go," Lester said.

Two seasons ago, which was the last time WMU visited East Lansing, Bellamy ran for 67 yards on 12 attempts in a 28-14 MSU victory. Quarterback Jon Wassink, then a sophomore, finished 11 of 26 for 79 yards and an interception, while being sacked four times. Since he is now more experienced, Lester hopes Wassink can lead the Broncos in hazardous territory.

"It's great having a senior quarterback against it," Lester said of MSU's defense. "I really like our offensive line. They are going to need to be great to slow down all those defensive lineman.

"It's a great challenge. We are excited about it. We know it will be tough, but these are the kind of games you love to get up for."

The Spartans (1-0) host the Broncos (1-0) on Sept. 7 (7:30 p.m., Big Ten Network).

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