Two minutes with: David Drew, the MLive Media Group reporter
Is there tension between Western Michigan’s coaches and Tim Beckman? Not that I’m aware of. I had a very brief talk with head coach Bill Cubit about Tim Beckman and his move to Illinois. Cubit doesn’t like speaking, at least publicly, about other programs and the way they are run by coaches.
What are folks saying about last year’s game with Toledo? You don’t have to be a fan of either team to be amazed by the video- game statistics put up in that long four-hour game. A total of 1,439 yards highlighted by 419 rushing yards for Toledo and 548 passing yards for Western Michigan. Oh, and 129 total points. It might be surprising but some Western Michigan fans simply shook their heads in disgust and moved on, though.
Can Alex Carder be as good without Jordan White? Yes. Carder is an NFL-caliber quarterback, and Western Michigan’s offense will score points no matter who is catching passes. I have a feeling there will have to be a receiving-by-committee mantra this year, as none of Western Michigan’s receivers are at the Jordan White level. Three names to look out for Saturday are senior Eric Monette, junior Josh Schaffer and freshman Timmy Keith. Monette is a 6-5, 200-pounder that doesn’t have blazing speed but runs good routes and rarely drops balls. Schaffer (6-2, 219) can stretch the field, and Keith (6-1, 205) is an electric slot receiver.
What is Cubit’s approval rating in Kalamazoo? There is always so much optimism this time of year, and there are always the fans who have to get in their pot shots. I would put a rating of 72 out there. He hasn’t won a MAC championship in his tenure at Western Michigan, but he consistently puts a good team on the field and is almost always competitive with the BCS big boys.
Does Western Michigan alum Tim Allen hang out on campus and shout “To infinity and beyond”? Actually, I saw Tim in December. He had a big belly and a white beard. He was trying to land a big red sled on my neighbor’s roof. I’ve also seen Western Michigan football alum Terry Crews riding a Tiger around downtown flexing his pectorals with a bottle of Old Spice body wash in his hand.
Give us a prediction. I have Illinois winning 27-24. Western Michigan’s defense will probably end up being better than it was a year ago, but Nathan Scheelhaase’s ability and some beefy Illini tight ends will be too much in the first game for a new defense that is built more on speed than bulk. Without a secure go-to receiver, Alex Carder may try to make too many things happen. Western Michigan has a freshman kicker, Andrew Haldeman, that can really boot the ball, in practice. I’m waiting to see if he can do it in front of 50,000 people.