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Return of the MAC: Western Michigan Broncos Preview

Western Michigan Head Coach Lance Taylor
© Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

As the spring football game approaches, the Western Michigan Broncos are gearing up for an eventful season ahead. Under the guidance of coach Lance Taylor, the team is undergoing significant transformations, both on and off the field.

Head Coach Lance Taylor is spearheading a wave of changes within the Western Michigan Broncos football program. With the appointment of new offensive coordinator Walt Bell and defensive coordinator Scott Power, alongside the addition of position coaches Darren Paige, Drew Moulton, and Brandon Lacy, the team is poised for a dynamic shift in strategy and performance.

Coaching Changes

Walt Bell

Bell, previously the head coach for the UMass Minutemen from 2019 to 2021, brings a wealth of coaching experience to his new role as offensive coordinator for Western Michigan. His extensive resume includes stints as offensive coordinator at Indiana (2022-2023), Florida State (2018), Maryland (2016-2018), and Arkansas State (2014-2015).

During his tenure at Indiana, however, Bell faced challenges as the offensive coordinator. The Hoosiers struggled, ranking 111th nationally in offensive production, with an average of 20.8 points per game, placing them near the bottom among qualifying teams. His tenure at Indiana came to an end after the fifth game of the 2023 season.

Now, joining Western Michigan, Bell aims to revitalize an offense that averaged 23.7 points per game last season, positioning them at 90th in the nation in scoring. With the Broncos aiming for improvement after a 4-8 overall record and a fourth-place finish in the MAC-West, Bell’s experience and expertise will be instrumental in shaping the team’s offensive strategy moving forward.

Scott Power

Scott Power was appointed as the Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers coach in March 2024, bringing with him a wealth of experience and success in defensive coaching across various levels of college football. His recent tenure at Louisiana Tech saw significant achievements, including aiding the Bulldog's defense to secure a spot in the top 25 for turnovers gained in 2022. Notably, he mentored one All-American and guided seven Conference USA All-Conference selections. Additionally, Power played a pivotal role in recruiting the top-ranked class in CUSA for 2024, which also stood out as fifth in the Group of 5.

Before his tenure at Louisiana Tech, Power spent three seasons as the defensive coordinator at Stephen F. Austin, where his leadership consistently produced top-tier defenses in the FCS. In 2021, his defensive unit led the Western Athletic Conference in crucial defensive categories such as scoring defense, total defense, takeaways, sacks, and tackles for loss. Before these roles, Power served as defensive coordinator at Texas A&M Commerce, Central Washington, and Marian, showcasing his expertise and versatility in defensive coaching. Additionally, he holds a degree in Business Management and Economics from Indiana University.

Darren Paige

Darren Paige assumed the role of running backs coach for WMU in March 2024, bringing with him an extensive 14-year coaching journey primarily in the Midwest. His most recent stint was at Army, where he served as the running backs coach. Notably, under his guidance, Kanye Udoh emerged as the ECAC Freshman of the Year, making history as the first freshman in the program to achieve consecutive 100-yard rushing games.

Before his time at Army, Paige held coaching positions at various institutions, including two seasons as the running backs coach at Cincinnati, where he mentored fifth-round draft pick Jerome Ford. During his tenure, Cincinnati's rushing game excelled, averaging 5.2 yards per carry, ranking 18th in the nation. Paige's contributions were instrumental in Cincinnati securing an AAC Championship and a berth in the 2021 College Football Playoffs.

Broncos DB Lovely with the interception
© Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Before his stint at Cincinnati, Paige served as a wide receivers coach at Eastern Michigan, Stony Brook, and Holy Cross, showcasing his versatility across different offensive positions. Additionally, he spent four seasons as the wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator at Midwestern State and gained valuable experience as a graduate assistant at Kent State.

Drew Moulton

Drew Moulton was appointed as WMU's tight end coach in March 2024, bringing a wealth of experience and expertise to the Broncos. His previous role as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Slippery Rock showcased his ability to develop high-performing offenses. Under his guidance, Slippery Rock's offense consistently ranked in the top 25 for total offense, with the most recent season seeing them soar into the top 10 nationally, averaging an impressive 40.9 points per game and 466.4 yards per game.

Prior to his tenure at Slippery Rock, Moulton held various coaching positions, including roles at Indiana, Minnesota, Eastern Michigan, and Southwest Minnesota State, where he honed his skills in offensive coaching and quality control. Notably, Moulton has a personal connection to WMU, being the older brother of former WMU football alum Alec Moulton, who excelled as a wide receiver from 2012 to 2015 before graduating with a degree in business.

Brandon Lacy

Brandon Lacy was appointed as WMU’s defensive ends coach in March 2024, bringing a formidable track record of success and expertise to the Broncos. His most recent role at Southern Miss saw impressive achievements, with his defensive line boasting 222 total tackles, 42 tackles for loss, and 25.5 sacks during the 2022 season.

Bronco defense tackling Mississippi State runningback
© Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

Prior to his tenure at Southern Miss, Lacy held notable coaching positions, including serving as the defensive line coach at Richmond and enjoying a prosperous 10-year tenure at Southeastern Louisiana. At SLU, he cultivated an impressive legacy, producing an All-American player, guiding 14 All-Southland Conference selections, and consistently leading defensive lines that ranked prominently in national statistics for sacks, tackles for loss, turnovers, and scoring defense.

Throughout his coaching career, Lacy has played a pivotal role in the development of numerous elite players, boasting a remarkable track record that includes coaching five NFL Draft picks, 10 All-American defensive linemen, 34 all-conference selections, three Defensive Player of the Year award winners, and two finalists for the prestigious Buck Buchanan Award, recognizing the top defensive player in FCS football.

Roster and Schedule Expectations

Key players such as DaShon Bussell, Bilhal Kone, Devaughn Mortimer, and Jordin Parker anchor the roster, while the coaching and support staff, led by Seth Ellis and Jonathan Ceh, provide invaluable guidance and expertise to propel the team toward success in the upcoming season.

The Broncos also welcome a roster of new transfers, adding depth and talent to their lineup. Notable arrivals include Rodney McGraw, Anterio Thompson, Dominic Moon, Popeye Williams, Bugs Mortimer, Ryan Raybuck, and Chris Toudle, each bringing their unique skills and experiences to the team.

Western Michigan Broncos Fans
© Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

Looking ahead to the 2024 season, Western Michigan football faces an exciting array of challenges and opportunities. A revised schedule sees the Broncos taking on formidable opponents, including Ohio State and Michigan, in high-stakes matchups that promise to test their mettle. Additionally, the team focuses on recruiting efforts, with early signing day heralding the arrival of promising new talent to bolster their ranks.

Celebration At Western Michigan Broncos

Furthermore, Western Michigan football celebrates the academic achievements of seven current and former team members who have been honored by the National Football Foundation Hampshire Honor Society. Mitch Bartol, Boone Bonnema, Trevor Campbell, Jehlani Galloway, Jacob Gideon, Adam Vandervest, and Addison West exemplify the Broncos' commitment to excellence both on and off the field, boasting impressive academic records alongside their athletic prowess.

As the Broncos continue their preparations for the challenges ahead, anticipation mounts among fans and supporters, eager to witness the next chapter in Western Michigan football's storied legacy.


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