WMU News

Broncos prepare for football season opener

Aug. 10, 2000

KALAMAZOO -- There is no shortage of motivation for the Western Michigan University football team. Freshmen and rookies reported on Saturday (Aug. 5) and started workouts Aug. 8, with the balance of the squad joining in on Aug. 11.

Western Michigan returns 14 starters and 40 letterwinners from a 7-5 team that captured the 1999 Mid-American Conference West Division title and came within four seconds of a post-season bowl berth.

"One of two things will happen this season," says fourth-year coach Gary Darnell. "Either complacency will set in or a fire will build up inside that's hard to live with, and I really feel it's the latter for us. Being close (last year) was honorable, but it's not what we're in this thing for."

This year's camp is filled with intriguing storylines, starting at quarterback where junior Jeff Welsh (Oak Forest, Ill/Mount Carmel HS) and transfer Ryan Harris (Franklin, Idaho/Ricks JC) will compete for the starting job vacated by the graduation of Tim Lester. Redshirt freshmen Jonathan Drach (St. Charles, Ill./St. Charles HS) and Josh Nycz (East Pointe, Mich./East Detroit HS), along with sophomore Chris Gruening (Park Ridge, Ill./Maine South HS), will also challenge for playing time.

"We knew three years ago this day was coming," Darnell said. "We've built up a group of quarterbacks and worked the system to prepare for the transition. I'm comfortable with the quarterback situation."

"I think the defense is at its highest level in the four years we've been here," says Darnell, who calls this year's schedule the toughest in school history.

The Broncos open with a pair of Big Ten road contests at Wisconsin (Aug. 31) and Iowa (Sept. 9) before hosting Indiana State on CommUniverCity Night, Sept. 16. WMU also renews its rivalry with Marshall, traveling to Huntington, W.Va., on Oct. 5 for a Thursday night contest. The game versus Marshall is scheduled for national television coverage on ESPN. The contest at Iowa will be available on many cable systems and satellite TV providers via pay-per-view as part of the ESPN GamePlan

Thurs., Aug. 31 at Wisconsin 7:05 p.m. CDT
Sat., Sept. 9 at Iowa (ESPN GamePlan) 1:05 p.m. CDT
Sat., Sept. 16 vs Indiana State
6 p.m. EDT
Sat., Sept. 23 vs Toledo*
Southwest Fest
6 p.m. EDT
Sat., Sept. 30 vs Ohio*
Family Fest
1 p.m. EDT
Thurs, Oct. 5 at Marshall* (ESPN TV) 8 p.m. EDT
Sat., Oct. 21 vs Northern Illinois*
1 p.m. EDT
Sat., Oct. 28 at Kent* 2 p.m. EDT
Sat., Nov. 4 at Ball State* 1 p.m. EST
Sat., Nov. 11 at Central Michigan* 1 p.m. EST
Sat., Nov. 18 vs Eastern Michigan*
Hall of Fame
1 p.m. EST

Home games are in bold. Asterisk (*) indicates MAC opponents.

Media contact: Daniel Jankowski, 616 387-4122; daniel.jankowski@wmich.edu

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