WMU prepares for rivalry game with new quarterback

Western Michigan's Darius Phillips, right, intercepts a pass intended for Michigan State's Felton Davis III, left, during the second quarter of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017, in East Lansing, Mich. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — It’s a big week in Kalamazoo for the Western Michigan football team.

Coming off a 20-17 overtime win against Eastern Michigan last weekend, the Broncos now have over a week to prepare for its rivalry game against Central Michigan.

However, the Chippewas aren’t the only thing WMU will have to prepare for. The Broncos will have to adjust to life without starting quarterback Jon Wassink, who will be out 6-8 weeks with an injury that knocked him out of last Saturday’s contest.

Wassink’s injury gave an opportunity for true freshman Reece Goddard to get under center and make some important throws late in a close game.

“I thought he went in there and did a great job,” WMU head coach Tim Lester said. “He was calm, he made one big throw on a third down that was an aggressive throw and ran the ball well. We’re a team that runs the ball well and now you have a guy in there that can run it.”

Lester was confident in his freshman quarterback’s ability to have a positive impact on the field, but said his offense will have to adjust to a new style of quarterback.

“He’s really smart, he’s a state champ and has had an unbelievable career in Missouri in the St. Louis area,” Lester said. “He’s an exciting player to watch. I mean he’s a different type of player than Jon (Wassink), which gives us a little bit of something different, scary different and exciting different at the same time.”

When asked how he expects Goddard to play, Lester said he wants the quarterback to play his game.

“He has to be who he is,” Lester said. “You’re not going to take a guy that plays like he does, he’s kind of a gunslinger-type guy, and try to make him a manager. We’re going to try to teach him to manage games and make smart decisions, but I’m not going to say ‘You have to throw the ball away, you have to do this.’”

The Broncos enter next week’s contest with a 5-3 record and in third place in the Mid-American Conference West Division.

“We’re going out there to win games, so I’m going to ask him to go and be him and not try to put too many boxes around him,” Lester said.

CMU enters the game with a 4-4 record, just one game back of the Broncos in the division standings. The Chippewas dominated their game last Saturday, coming away with a 56-9 victory over Ball State on the road.

CMU’s offense is something that Lester made note when talking about the upcoming game.

“They are extremely explosive. The one thing I was excited and worried about all at the same time is when you play a team like Central is they are transitioning to more of a spread (offense),” he said. “That can take time, and if they show up and their spread offense is clicking like a Texas Tech or a Baylor, they can score 90.”

Lester said he has seen the Chippewas new spread offense progress since unveiling it in their first game.

“Every single week I watch the film and unfortunately they’re looking better and better,” he said.  “We’re getting them when they are at their best, they’re getting healthy,” Lester said. “It’s going to be a challenge going against a spread offense that’s capable of coming back. Even when you get 14 up, you’re not up.”

Kickoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. at Waldo Stadium in Kalamazoo.