WMU Football offensive line

Western Michigan's offensive line has a huge role to play in keeping EMU away from Kaleb Eleby and opening up holes for the Broncos' talented running backs

Western Michigan football suffered its first in-conference loss this past week, falling victim to an air-raid from the Ball State University Cardinals and a lack of scoring in the second half. Here are three takeaways from the Broncos’ performance at Waldo Stadium on Saturday:

Turnovers were the nail in the coffin

Looking at the box score and team comparisons for this contest, most fans would likely be puzzled. The Broncos lost by 25, but outgained the Cardinals in total yardage, had more time of possession, and secured more first downs.

The problem lay in the turnover margin. WMU had a startling four possessions end in takeaways by Ball State, while the Cardinals did not give away the football once. Winning the turnover battle had been a key piece of Bronco victories earlier this year and something WMU will want to return to moving forward.

The secondary was exposed

One of the things the Broncos needed to limit coming into this game was the opportunities BSU had in the air. The Cardinals have struggled to run the ball efficiently this season, meaning if the Broncos could force them into a rushing attack, they had a strong chance of coming out with a win.

Unfortunately, Ball State veteran quarterback Drew Plitt had his way with the WMU secondary on Saturday. He was efficient, completing 15 of 25 passes for 310 yards and four touchdowns. A team simply cannot give up that many yards and touchdowns through the air and expect to win, as it was noticeable how badly cornerbacks Therran Coleman and Dorian Jackson were getting beaten downfield on the day.

Disappointing offensive line play

The only bright spot from this experienced group of lineman was that it created some holes for the dynamic running back duo of La’Darius Jefferson and Sean Tyler. The Broncos rushed the ball 49 times for 150 yards, a respectable but not outstanding number. In passing situations, however, the line was miserable.

Kaleb Eleby was under duress the entire contest, with the Ball State defensive front wreaking havoc. The opposing rushers totaled three quarterback hits, four sacks, three forced fumbles and six tackles for loss. These are unacceptable numbers given up by what was touted as one of, if not the best offensive line in the entire Mid-American Conference. The squad will need to regroup and figure out what went wrong going into next week’s contest against Kent State.

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