Ohio freshman Quinton Maxwell likely gets start at QB

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Detroit — It sure sounds like redshirt freshman Quinton Maxwell will be the starting quarterback for Ohio when it takes on Western Michigan in the Mid-American Conference championship game tonight.

“Quinton is healthy, he’s been obviously starting the last few games for us,” Ohio coach Frank Solich said Thursday. “He’s gotten better and better and I think will continue to get better.”

The news is also good for senior quarterback Greg Windham, who has been dealing with a leg injury in recent weeks.

“Last week I talked to him before the game ... he put a number on it, 80 percent,” Solich said. “And when a player tells you he’s 80 percent, that generally is not good enough. He’s feeling much better, he’s moving much better, so he’s able to play.”

Maxwell is completing 55.6 percent of his passes for 1,247 yards and eight touchdowns, while Windham is at 56.4 percent for 1,366 yards and nine touchdowns. Maxwell has four interceptions and Windham’s one — key stats against a Western Michigan team that forces a lot of turnovers.

Windham, though, has impressed his teammates with his quick rise to a leadership role.

“He’s a young quarterback,” senior receiver Sebastian Smith said. “As the season’s progressed, he’s become more mature in how he’s approached guys on the field.

“I can see it, in how he’s been playing. ... I’m confident in his play.”

In great hands

Western Michigan took home several conference awards Thursday, none more impressive than senior receiver Corey Davis being named offensive player of the year.

Only two other receivers have won that honor, Western Michigan’s Greg Jennings and Marshall’s Randy Moss, who, combined, played 24 seasons in the NFL.

“It’s very humbling,” Davis said of being in that company.

Davis is the Football Bowl Subdivision leader in career receiving yards, but coach P.J. Fleck said Davis is more than a receiver.

His blocking skills often get overlooked. Western has a ton of weapons on offense, receiving and rushing, and Davis is making an impact.

“He’s so selfless,” Fleck said. “He’s a complete player.”

A Broncos sendoff

Western Michigan got quite a sendoff from the Kalamazoo community.

The streets were lined with fans, and one emerged, seemingly out of nowhere, along the highway.

“On I-94, exit 82,” Fleck said, smiling. “Literally, came out of the woods with a Western Michigan flag.”

Fleck noted how it’s been a tough year for Kalamazoo, specifically with the Uber shooting and bicycle tragedy.

He’s been impressed with how the community has rallied around his team, and he’s happy his team has been able to provide some joy.

“If you can at least find some joy in your city’s football team, then we’re doing our job,” Fleck said. “We’re giving and serving, which is the No. 1 thing in our program.”

A record MAC championship crowd of 50,000 is expected.

Biggest booster

Many coaches with good teams don’t like to tell their teams just how good they are.

Fleck is different.

“Like I always say, this is like raising your daughters,” Fleck said. “If your daughter never hears she’s lovely from you, from age 2, 3, 4, 5 all the way up to 15, 16, the next thing you know, she’s out the door with the first guy that tells her, ‘You look lovely!’

“We’re very real with them. You can’t ignore this.”

MAC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

Western Michigan vs. Ohio

Kickoff: 7 Friday, Ford Field, Detroit

TV/radio: ESPN2/WDFN

Records: No. 13 Western Michigan 12-0, Ohio 8-4

Line: Western Michigan by 18