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CFN Take: WKU Beats ASU In Final Seconds
2013 Western Kentucky Hilltoppers - Head Coach: Bobby Petrino
Western Kentucky Hilltoppers
at WKU 34, Arkansas State 31
| 2013 Record: 8-4 |
8/31 Kentucky W 35-26
9/7 at Tennessee L 52-20
9/14 at South Alabama L 31-24
9/21 Morgan State W 58-17
9/28 Navy W 19-7
10/3 at ULM W 31-10
10/12 OPEN DATE
10/16 Louisiana L 37-20
10/26 Troy L 32-26
11/2 at Georgia State W 44-28
11/9 at Army W 21-17
11/16 OPEN DATE
11/23 at Texas State W 38-7
11/30 Arkansas St W 34-31
Basically … Willie McNeal caught a two-yard touchdown pass with ten seconds to play to give the Hilltoppers the win in a back-and-forth game. WKU got up 20-7 helped by Brandon Doughty touchdown passes, but ASU roared back with 17 straight points on two Fredi Knighten touchdown runs and a 45-yard Brian Davis field goal but WKU got back on track with a two-yard Antonio Andrews touchdown dash late in the third. The Red Wolves got a six-yard touchdown catch from Julian Jones to get the lead back, but WKU took over late for the win.
- Arkansas State committed ten penalties for 78 yards, WKU committed seven for 56 yards.
- WKU RB Antonio Andrews ran 20 times for 119 yards and a score, and he caught four passes for 58 yards.
- Arkansas State RB Michael Gordon ran 19 times for 132 yards.
- WKU QB Brandon Doughty completed 21-of-37 passes for 255 yards and three scores.
WKU 21, at Army 17
Basically … Antonio Andrews ran for a two-yard score with 32 seconds left to lift WKU over Army. The Knights took the lead midway through the fourth on a 20-yard Terry Baggett run, overcoming touchdown catches by Willie McNeal from 11 and four yards out. Army scored the first ten points helped by a one-yard Angel Santiago touchdown run, but the offense lost two fumbles and the defense couldn’t hold on WKU’s 87-yard drive in the final 3:49.
- WKU RB Antonio Andrews ran 24 times for 117 yards and a score and caught three passes for 30 yards.
- Army RB Terry Baggett ran 12 times for 102 yards and a score.
- Army QB Angel Santiago completed 8-of-11 passes for 70 yards and ran 15 times for 35 yards and a score.
- WKU WR Willie McNeal caught six passes for 101 yards and two touchdowns.
Western Kentucky 44, at Georgia State 28, Nov. 2
Basically … Western Kentucky rode Keshawn Simpson and his four rushing touchdowns to an easy win over Georgia State. Simpson only had 25 yards rushing on 10 carries and all of his touchdowns came from less than three yards out. Georgia State was within a field goal at the end of the first quarter, but never got closer than 10 in the second half.
- Western Kentucky QB Brandon Doughty was 15-of-24 for 206 yards, a touchdown and a pick.
- Georgia State QB Ronnie Bell threw for 325 yards, two scores and two picks on 26-of-41 passing.
- Western Kentucky scored a touchdown after each of Georgia State’s two turnovers.
- Georgia State had 85 rushing yards on 27 attempts for a little more than three yards per carry.
Louisiana–Lafayette 37, at WKU 20
Basically … ULL overcame a 10-0 deficit with a 99-yard interception return for a score from Al Riles to spark a 30-3 scoring run. Alonzo Harris ran for two short scores and Terrance Broadway ran for a one-yard touchdown and threw a 24-yarder to Jacob Maxwell. WKU moved to within ten late on a one-yard Antonio Andrews run, but the second Harris score put it away.
- It wasn’t the prettiest of days throwing the ball, but ULL got by on the ground game. WKU couldn’t get the Rajin’ Cajuns off the field as Alonzo Harris and company ran for good gain after good gain. ULL finished with 254 rushing yards and three scores.
- Turnovers are killing the Hilltoppers. Just when they were about to go in for a 17-0 lead, Brandon Doughty threw the 99-yard pick six and everything changed. -3 in turnover margin – that’s why WKU lost.
- Antonio Andrews did his thing, rushing for 154 yards, and Doughty wasn’t bad, for the most part, hitting 18-of-23 passes for 260 yards, but again, turnovers, turnovers, turnovers.
- 2-0 in Sun Belt play, now ULL has to go to Arkansas State. Win that, and it should be smooth sailing the rest of the way. As long as the offensive line can continue to be physical, all should be fine. QB Terrance Broadway was shaky. Don’t expect that again.
WKU 31, at ULM 10
Basically … WKU got up 14-0 on two Brandon Doughty touchdown passes with a 33-yarder to Willie McNeal and a 17-yard play to Leon Allen, but ULM fought back with a one-yard Jyruss Edwards scoring run and a 34-yard Justin Manton field goal to get within four. And then it was all WKU, scoring 17 unanswered points with a six-yard Antonio Andrews run and a five-yard score from Allen.
- There was one interception. For a team that has struggled so much with turnovers, WKU didn’t commit enough to blow the easy win. Brandon Doughty had his strongest game yet, completing 24-of-36 passes for 370 yards with two scores, helped by Antonio Andrews taking the pressure off with 155 rushing yards and a score.
- Brayle Brown was in for Kolton Browning, but the ULM offense didn’t hum, and went nowhere fast in the second half. He threw for 275 yards, but the running game wasn’t there to help balance things out, gaining just 116 yards and a score.
- It’s like a broken record, but every week, WKU’s Xavius Boyd is doing more than star linebacker Andrew Jackson. They’re being asked to do different things, but Boyd was a much bigger factor to keep the ULM ground game rolling.
- There was so much promise after the Wake Forest win. ULM hasn’t been able to find any of the same magic with the offense struggling just to keep the chains moving, and the defense not coming up with enough pressure. Next week’s Texas State game is vital. The season can turn around in a hurry with a win and the layup against Georgia State to follow.
at WKU 19 … Navy 7
Basically … WKU defense held Navy’s vaunted ground game to just 86 yards, while the Hilltopper offense overcame a 7-0 deficit with 19 unanswered points. Antonio Andrews carried the load, running for 182 yards with scores from two and 11 yards out, and Garrett Schwettman hit a 30-yard field goal. Navy’s only points came in the first quarter on a one-yard Keenan Reynolds run.
- Everyone wanted to see a running game, but the wrong one showed up. Antonio Andrews controlled the game and the clock, running 32 times. As a team, Navy ran 33 times for just 107 yards and a touchdown.
- The WKU turnover problems continues with two giveaways, but unlike past games, the defense picked up the slack with two picks from Jonathan Dowling. Swarming, the Hilltopper D generated a safety and never let the Navy backfield breathe.
- The disaster for Navy was compounded by the loss of QB Keenan Reynolds to a reported head injury. He only completed 2-of-4 passes and ran for 23 yards and a score before getting knocked out. John Hendrick couldn’t move the offense, getting sacked for a safety and throwing two interceptions. The rest of the backs didn’t help the cause.
- Xavius Boyd continues to be WKU’s top linebacker, making a team-leading eight stops with the key sack and two tackles for loss. Even so, Andrew Jackson was a playmaker with seven stops and a tackle behind the line.
at WKU 58, Morgan State 17
Basically … Antonio Andrews went nuts, running for 213 yards and five scores on just 17 carries, starting out with a 65-yard scoring dash just ten seconds into the game, and adding touchdowns from five, three, ten and 14 yards out. Morgan State got a seven-yard Nate Ingram touchdown catch late in the first quarter, but WKU kept on coming with a blocked punt field goal attempt for a score to go along with Andrews’ big day on the way to a 42-7 first half lead.
- It wasn’t all Andrews … actually, yes it was. He busted out and ran wild in the open field, sprung time and again by a good day from the offensive line. The passing game wasn’t needed, but four different quarterbacks got in some work. Brandon Doughty completed all seven of his throws, and as a team, the quarterbacks combined to hit 17-of-24 passes for 211 yards. However, they threw two picks.
- Not that the Hilltoppers needed it, but they went for it on four fourth down plays, converting all four. This was a game for testing things out, and they did that.
at South Alabama 31, WKU 24, Sept. 14
Basically … Trey Fetner ran for a one-yard score with 1:38 to play to break a 24-24 tie to give South Alabama the win. Down 21-10 after halftime, the Jaguars owned the second half with 21 points helped by two of Aleem Sunanon’s three field goals and a Jay Jones four-yard touchdown run, but the defense helped the cause with three interceptions. WKU got three touchdown passes from Brandon Doughty, with two to Nicholas Norris, but the picks were devastating.
- Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers. Western Kentucky keeps shooting itself in the foot. The Tennessee game was highlighted, but the three interceptions thrown by Brandon Doughty were the difference against USA. The mistakes and the eight penalties proved very, very costly.
- Is South Alabama now a major factor in the Sun Belt race? Yeah. If it’s good enough to beat WKU, it’s good enough to beat anyone else in the league. The running game might not have been a major factor, but Ross Metheny completed 11-of-15 passes for 193 yards and didn’t make a slew of mistakes.
- Antonio Andrews ran 15 times for 122 yards, but he didn’t get the ball enough. The Hilltoppers are putting the ball in Doughty’s hands way too much when he should be handing the ball off and grinding out the offense.
- Tyrell Pearson might have come up with two picks, but corner Qudarius Ford was the Jaguars’ defensive star with 12 tackles with two broken up passes.
at Tennessee 52, WKU 20, Sept. 7
Basically … Western Kentucky turned the ball over seven times for the game and five times in the first six snaps to give Tennessee a nice cushion. The Hilltoppers scored first on a 37-yard Garrett Schwettman field goal, and then the floodgates opened with pick-sixes from Justin Coleman and Cameron Sutton as part of a 31-point run. Rajion Neal ran for three scores with two in the second half as the Vols pulled away after WKU fought back with two late first half touchdowns.
- WKU outgained, and in several ways, outplayed Tennessee at times, but turnovers, turnovers, turnovers. The Vols didn’t have to push the envelope too much, but they came out after halftime and took total control.
- The Tennessee offensive line blasted away for a good ground punch from Marlin Lane and Rajion Neal. Justin Worley didn’t have to force anything with the passing game, and while he threw a pick, he was fine within the situation.
- Antonio Andrews ran for 111 yards on just 13 carries for WKU, and Brandon Doughty threw for 222 yards, but his five interceptions and the offensive mistakes were way too much to overcome. Give the team credit, though, it fought back.
- Andrew Jackson might be the star defender for the Hilltoppers, but it was Xavier Boyd who was in on everything making 13 tackles with a sack and two tackles for loss. Jackson came up with six stops.
WKU 35, Kentucky 26, Aug. 31
Basically … WKU took control of the game from the start with two Keshawn Simpson touchdown runs and an Antonio Andrews three-yard scoring dash. Kentucky stayed in the game helped by a five-yard Jonathan George touchdown run late in the first half, but WKU opened up the second half with 14 straight points to stay ahead for good.
- WKU wasn’t consistent and it struggled to keep the chains moving, but it controlled the clock and took advantage of every opportunity. The Hilltoppers were able to stay ahead and hung on.
- The Kentucky offense was sped up, but that turned into a problem with the attack wasn’t working. Maxwell Smith was effective late, and Jalen Whitlow connected on short passes early, but overall the offense didn’t come through when it had the chances.
- The Hilltoppers gave up a slew of yards, but they didn’t break. Xavius Boyd was a disruptive force making ten tackles with two sacks as the defense brought the heat from all angles.
- Get ready for a huge year from UK middle linebacker Avery Williamson. He came up with 14 tackles with a fumble recovery. He was in on everything.
Why To Be Excited Bobby Petrino is the head coach. Willie Taggart might have been a special talent to bring WKU to Sun Belt prominence, but Bobby Petrino is Bobby Petrino. Even if he’s just a rental for one season before taking over a bigger gig – helloooo, Illinois – it should be a good year with 16 starters returning and the pieces in place to come up with a more potent offense. Antonio Andrews is one of the nation’s best all-around backs, and Willie McNeal is a strong inside receiver who should thrive under the new coaching staff. The secondary that was among the best the Sun Belt returns intact, and Andrew Jackson is one of the nation’s best linebackers. However …
Why To Be Grouchy The defensive line needs retooling. The Hilltoppers led the Sun Belt in sacks, tackles for loss and run defense, but tackles Jamarcus Allen and Rammell Lewis are gone along with end Cole Tischer and superstar pass rusher Quanterus Smith. The offensive line that was such a key part of Taggart’s success loses the right side with guard Adam Smith and tackle Seth White gone, and starting quarterback Kawaun Jakes has to be replaced.
What Needs Working On The passing game has to be better. It was efficient last season with the offense revolving around Andrews and the running game, but the passing attack came up with the fewest yards in the Sun Belt and failed to hit the 200-yard mark over the final four games. On the other side, the pass rush has to get back on board after fizzling late in the season. After dominating early on, and with nine sacks against FIU, WKU came up with just three sacks over the final five games with Quanterus Smith neutralized before missing the last two games.
Non-Conference Games: Kentucky, at Tennessee, Morgan State, Navy, at Army
Realistic Best Case Record: 10-2
Worst Case Record: 6-6
Likely Finish: 9-3
Pre-Preseason Projected Wins: at South Alabama, Morgan State, Navy, Louisiana, Troy, at Georgia State, at Army, at Texas State, Arkansas State
Pre-Preseason Projected Losses: Kentucky, at Tennessee, at ULM
Schedule Analysis: The Hilltoppers might be good enough to come up with a split in the SEC openers against Kentucky and Tennessee, and then it’s on to Sun Belt play with a trip to South Alabama. Kicking off with the date against Morgan State, WKU has just one away game from September 21st until November – an October 3rd Thursday night game at ULM. Week off to prepare for Louisiana is nice, and getting another bye week before going finishing up with Texas State and Arkansas State will be a huge help.
Team Concerns For 2013: Bobby Petrino has a nice base of players to work with. First, he needs to improve the passing game that was efficient, but didn't crank out a ton of yards averaging a mere 205 per game. Without quarterback Kawaun Jakes, 6-7 James Mauro will get the first shot to run the attack. The O line could be a little better in pass protection, and losing two starters on the right side won't help. The defense is loaded in the back seven with linebacker Andrew Jackson returning, but three starters are gone up front including starting tackles Jamarcus Allen and Rammell Lewis.
The 2013 Class Is Heavy On ... Receivers. This is a massive class with a boatload of pickups for several areas. The defensive line is LOADED with fresh bodies including JUCO transfer defensive tackle Maurice Bennett and 290-pound prepster Joe Fennell to make an instant impact for a front four that needs help. But this is a Bobby Petrino offense, and he's going to want receivers. Aaron Jackson and Cam Lewis are huge targets with great upside, and Jalen Edwards is a speedster who could be used in a variety of ways. Quarterback Todd Porter was an interesting recruit to develop, but will he still have Petrino around three years from now?
2012 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 121. That Class Was Heavy On ... Head coach Willie Taggert is paving the road for down the road with the lines. The offensive line is about to get an important infusion to build for 2014 and beyond. The line might not be a need right now, but it’s going to get the most key players with some huge, HUGE bodies ready to blast away for the interior.
2011 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 86. That Class Was Heavy On ... Defensive backs. Quality, not quantity. The Hilltoppers didn’t get many defensive backs, but they got some strong players to lock down the secondary right away. Champ Lewis is a tall, talented safety who blew off Maryland, South Florida, Vanderbilt, Kentucky, and other mid-level BCS programs, and made Iowa State mad. Corner Eric Robinson-Berry committed to Louisville, ending others from going after him, and then decommitted to go to WKU. Quartterrio Morgan isn’t another Bobby Rainey, but he’s a quick, talented back for head coach Willie Taggart to make into a star.
2010 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 118. That Class Was
Heavy On ... Quarterbacks.
There are so many players brought in last season
that there wasn't a ton of room for too many new
players, but new head coach Willie Taggart wanted to
upgrade the offense as soon as possible and he was
able to sign JUCO bomber Matthias Pelesasa and
all-around playmaker Brandon Doughty to give the
team more options. WR Joel German could be a No. 1
target right away.
2009 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 84. That Class Was
Heavy On ... Bulk. There’s a little of something for every spot with no one spot getting the complete and total focus. The team was awful last season with a tough mix of seniors and unproven young players, and this class is built to be a foundation for the next several years. The skill position players are the stars of the show with QB Courtney Dalcourt, RB Keshawn Simpson, and WR Jamarielle Brown all going to be fixtures by 2012.