By Alan Gerould, Senior Writer, BroncoBlitz
This week for Western Michigan's fourth regular season game, at home versus Wagner College, we have five questions for Seahawks Sports Information Director John Beisser. John is now on the BroncoBlitz hot seat.
BroncoBlitz: The Wagner Seahawks have played "Saint's" in two of its first three games. The Western Michigan Broncos have played teams like USC and Michigan State in its first two games. Both teams enter this game at 1-2 but Wagner has an uphill battle on its hands coming into Kalamazoo on Saturday, or so one would think. How does Coach Houghtaling get his Seahawks believing they can win this game?
John Beisser: Coach ‘Hoss’, as he’s better known, and his staff do a great job of keeping our players on point and focusing on the task at hand. He’s constantly preaching that our guys need to control what they can control.
BroncoBlitz: Clearly Wagner recruits nationally with a number of players on its roster from the deep south. What are the draws for a student athlete to play at Wagner:
John Beisser: There are a number of factors that make Wagner attractive to student-athletes. We have a long, proud football history, tremendous academics, and we have one thing only a handful of schools can offer and that’s New York City, specifically Manhattan. Staten Island is one of the City’s five boroughs and it’s a free 20-minute ferry ride from here into Manhattan. This affords all of Wagner’s students, not just student-athletes, access to countless internships, career opportunity, social activities. It’s endless and there’s only one New York City.
Bronco Blitz: The Seahawks have a dangerous running back in junior Ryan Fulse from Fort Meade, Florida. He had an 83-yard gallop for a touchdown and another 60- yarder called back on a penalty. What makes this kid special? What other weapons do the Seahawks have?
John Beisser: We think we have two good ones in not only Ryan Fulse, but Denzel Knight as well. Last season, Knight led us in rushing with over 700 yards and averaged 6.5 yards per carry. Ryan is a first-year player here and is adjusting well. Certainly, at Columbia last week was his breakout game. Not only did he have touchdowns runs of 83 and 21 yards but he had another 60-yard touchdown run called back on a holding penalty. He could have had a 200-yard day or more. Denzel’s a bit bigger at 6-2, 220 vs. Ryan (5- 11, 195). They both have elite high-end speed yet Ryan might be a bit more elusive.
BroncoBlitz: The Seahawk defense is led by Santoni Graham and Quintin Hampton with 28 and 25 tackles respectively. What type of defense do the Seahawks run? What are they good at and where do they need to make the biggest improvement?
John Beisser: There’s no question that Santoni and Quintin are the leaders of our defense, two tough, physical inside linebackers. I think they really feed off one another and both have the ability to record or 10 or more tackles in a given game. They run well and, like I said, are very physical. The defense is solid overall with the secondary being the youngest unit.
BroncoBlitz: Last season the Seahawks played competitively at both Boston College and UMass. The compensation for going on the road is nice (Wagner will receive $315,000 for its trip to Kalamazoo) but a chance to play "up" in competition with a chance to get a program statement-making win would be even better. What has to happen on Saturday for the Seahawks to prevail?
John Beisser: Not to be cliché but Wagner probably has to play a nearly-perfect game on Saturday to have a chance. Like you said, we held our own with two FBS teams last year and weren’t fazed at all by the atmosphere at BC or UMass. In fact, we took an early 7-0 lead at BC. Obviously our coaches and players have tons of respect for Western Michigan. Just playing an FBS team is a challenge and then you consider this is a team that went 13-0 and almost knocked off Wisconsin in the Cotton Bowl. Plus, the way they’ve played against top teams this year. It’s a tall task, no question.