Western Michigan football is in the middle of back-to-back games against last season’s MAC Championship Game participants. As an old saying goes, “if you want to be the best, you have to beat the best.”
That is exactly head coach Tim Lester’s plan, though he knows it won’t be easy.
“The one thing you learn about when playing a champion, and we’re playing another one this week, is they have pride,” Lester said. “They’re not going to just roll over, you’re going to have to keep swinging, keep swinging, keep swinging.”
The Broncos are coming off of a road win at Buffalo in spite of some offensive struggles that caused WMU to have just seven points going into the fourth quarter. Lester said the team was excited about the win, but ready to learn from the mistakes made as well.
This week, WMU gets a challenge from reigning MAC Champion Ball State. The Cardinals struggled to a 1-3 start this season before seeming to figure some things out in a 28-16 win over Army last week.
Ball State returned several players from last year’s championship team, including dangerous offensive players like quarterback Drew Plitt and wide receiver Justin Hall.
“You need to have a lot of people around him,” said Lester about how to stop Hall. “He is so good in space. They do a great job of moving him around, getting him in the open field… We’re going to have to be sharp making sure we know where he is.”
Hall has 31 catches for 367 yards and two touchdowns so far this year. He also returned the opening kickoff 99 yards for a score against Army.
It wasn’t all bad news for the Broncos offensively against Buffalo, as Skyy Moore had his third consecutive game with at least 10 catches and 100 receiving yards and made two touchdown catches for the first time in his career to earn MAC Offensive Player of the Week. Lester said he loves the fact that Moore’s mindset and work ethic have not changed as he has started to receive accolades.
“He did what he did this weekend and actually he dropped one, which is all remembers is that one,” Lester said. “Since the moment he got here as a freshman, he shows up and works.”
As usual, Lester also provided injury updates as a part of his press conference. Lester said that AJ Thomas will be back at safety for the Broncos Saturday while Bricen Garner’s status is still uncertain as he works his way back from injury.
Braden Fiske had to isolate from the team last week due to the NCAA’s COVID-19 policy but Lester believes Fiske will be back for this week, getting the defense back to nearly full health.
Lester was asked about how his team has seemed to have a heightened level of focus this year, with examples like stepping up when Lester was out with COVID-19 and making a fourth-quarter comeback on the road against Buffalo. Lester talked about the team keeping the main goal in focus.
“The main thing for us is winning the fourth (MAC) championship in school history,” Lester said. “We talk about four all the time, understanding the big picture and keeping your eyes on it and keeping the main thing the main thing.”