Fleck’s Western Michigan Broncos in rough waters

Published: Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2013 5:30 a.m.CDT
Caption
(Al Goldis)
Western Michigan coach P.J. Fleck is shown on the side line during the first quarter of an NCAA college football game against Michigan State, Friday, Aug. 30, 2013, in East Lansing, Mich. Michigan State won 26-13. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)

It’s been an ugly start to the season for P.J. Fleck and the Western Michigan football team.

Western is faced with a brutal nonconference schedule this year, having to play games at Michigan State (where the Broncos lost 26-13 in Week 1), Northwestern and Iowa.

In WMU’s lone home nonconference game, the Broncos took on an FCS Nicholls State team that went just 1-10 last season. Despite outgaining the Colonels 484-447 in yards, recording 12 more first downs and winning the turnover battle, Fleck’s team lost 27-23 in the former Northern Illinois wideout’s home debut.

“We didn’t deserve to win the football game. Nicholls came out and put us in a 21-3 deficit after three possessions, and we dug ourselves a hole,” Fleck said during Monday’s Mid-American Conference coaches teleconference. “One thing about this football team is we need to learn how to win. We’re very young, very inexperienced. Not an excuse, we know who we are and we are who we are, and we’ve got to keep getting better on a daily basis, and we will.”

It certainly won’t get any easier for Western this week, when the Broncos head to Evanston to take on No. 17 Northwestern.

When he got to WMU, Fleck came up with the “Row the Boat” moniker. That’s what he said his team needs to do to get on the right track.

“That’s why we have ‘Row the Boat,’ that’s why we have an actual saying in our program. When the rough waters come and the water starts getting in your boat, we’ve got to bail the boat, bail water out of the boat and just keep rowing,” Fleck said. “They’ve got to understand, this is not going to be easy. We knew that at the beginning of the year, they knew that.”

Huskies moving on from Iowa: NIU coach Rod Carey hasn’t been shy about saying Week 2 isn’t a good spot for the Huskies’ bye week.

Carey did say that the bye gave his team a chance to move on from its Week 1 win at Iowa.

“My wife on Tuesday and Wednesday, I love her to death, but she just wanted to keep talking about the Iowa game and I told her, I said, ‘Hey, we’re not playing Iowa again, we’ve got Idaho,’ ” Carey said. “I’m sure if I was getting that at home, I’m sure [the players] were getting that. So we had to turn the page. And that’s why I think probably some of it was an advantage, to give us that time.

“My message was turn the page. We’re 1-0, that’s all we are.”

Tipton could be done for season: Central Michigan was going to have a tough time competing in the MAC West. Things got even tougher when Chippewas tailback Zurlon Tipton suffered a broken ankle in the Chippewas’ Week 1 loss at Michigan.

Tipton, who ran for 1,492 yards last season, could be done for the season. Central Michigan nearly was beaten by FCS New Hampshire this past weekend, escaping with a 24-21 win.

Fluellen shines in Rockets’ loss: Toledo was able to hang with Missouri for three quarters Saturday, thanks in large part to running back David Fluellen.

The senior tailback ran the ball 17 times for 111 yards and added 10 catches for 100 yards in the Rockets’ 38-23 loss.

Toledo coach Matt Campbell said Fluellen is a guy with strong running, catching and blocking ability. He certainly will be in the conversation for first-team All-MAC at the end of the year.

“He had a tremendous game,” Campbell said. “I really feel that David is one of the premier running backs in the country.”

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