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September 26, 2012
With Carder officially out, what does this mean for WMU?
When a team loses a star player like Western Michigan quarterback Alex Carder, it's hard to imagine them not being worried.
Just don't expect Bill Cubit to be.
"We'll have a good quarterback out there Saturday," the WMU head coach told BroncoBlitz.com after Monday's practice.
And in fairness, Cubit has every reason to put his trust in Tyler Van Tubbergen, the much-heralded backup to Carder. Van Tubbergen's experience pales in comparison to Carder, but the 6-foot-3, 198 pound junior out of Holland, Mich., has taken advantage of every opportunity.
Last season, Carder suffered an arm injury heading into the final game against Akron, leaving Van Tubbergen to take the reins in a game that was critical for the Broncos' bowl hopes.
Van Tubbergen responded by taking a blowtorch to the Zips defense, throwing for 252 yards and six touchdowns on 19-of-21 passing.
Granted, Akron was not a good team last fall. But the game still erased any doubts that he's not a capable backup. Now the lights will be on Van Tubbergen as a real starter for at least this week.
Don't underestimate how bright those lights will be, either. Toledo and Western Michigan isn't a game that will be in the national eye, but fans know all about how critical this matchup will be in the MAC West race. A loss could, in fact, potentially knock WMU out of the picture.
Taking the Akron game out of the equation, his numbers are still impressive. Van Tubbergen sits at 30-of-43 passing for 272 yards and a touchdown, with two picks. He also possesses an ability to run that's often overlooked, amassing 92 yards on 21 carries with another score.
The competition level varies, but even last week fans could plainly see that the junior belonged on the same field as UConn, who boasts a very solid defense.
What really remains to be seen is how he can deal with external pressures. The opportunity is there for him to succeed, as Toledo's defense has given up over 325 passing yards per game and although they apply solid pressure from the edges, WMU has protected the quarterback well.
Dareyon Chance and the Broncos should be able to get the running game going as well, as they've had success in recent weeks and the Rockets allow 158 per game on the ground.
What stands between Van Tubbergen and a win this Saturday is not ability, or a fantastic defense. It's simply whether nerves get to a quarterback who has yet to play on a stage quite this important. From his initial reaction, and the coaches' confidence, everything is looking promising.
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