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Looking Ahead to Western Kentucky

Last Saturday’s game saw Kentucky even their record to .500 on the young season with a 47-14 victory over Kent State.  The match-up showed that the improvement from last season’s offensive performance were no fluke as Maxwell Smith and company torched Kent State’s defense for 6 touchdowns and 539 total yards.  While offensively Kentucky performed rather well, the defense clearly has some work to do as Rick Minter’s inexperienced bunch allowed a grand total of 409 yards and two 25+ yard runs which both went for touchdowns.  This Saturday’s home game features intrastate rival Western Kentucky with their up-and-coming head coach Willie Taggart.  Western enters the game with a 1-1 record, coming off a blowout loss from the Alabama Crimson Tide.  Despite last weekend’s 35-0 decimation from the almighty hands of Darth Nick Saban, the Hilltoppers do many things well and will present some challenges to Kentucky on both sides of the ball come Saturday.


The most difficult challenge presenting itself is the concern of Western’s efficient passing attack.  On the season, Senior Quarterback Kawaun Jakes, is averaging 9.1 yards per passing attempt (16th nationally) and even managed a respectable 5.7 YPA on Alabama’s stellar defense.   He has also tossed 4 touchdowns and completed 69% of his passes which ranks him 25th nationally.  Jakes has been able to accomplish these feats mainly due to his experienced Offensive Line which returned 4 of 5 starters, including Center Sean Conway and Right Guard Adam Smith who were named First Team All-Sun Belt by Athlon Sports.  While the Hilltopper passing attack has posted good numbers they do have their share of issues, one in particular being Interception Percentage.  Last season Western tossed 13 picks on 301 attempts (4.3%) which was significantly higher than the FBS average of 2.9%.  In fact, it was so high they ranked 113th nationally in this category.  This season has seen the Toppers improve slightly, but Taggart’s offense has still tossed 2 picks on 58 attempts (3.4%), which places them 96th nationally.  For Kentucky to come out victorious Saturday, our young secondary must build upon the improved performance it experienced against Kent State.


An area that may appear deceptive when examining Western’s season statistics is their defense.  So far this year they rank 12th nationally in total defense, allowing only 241 yards per game.  But when you delve a bit deeper you realize this is due to two simple reasons, strength of opponent and pace of play.  In their first game of the season Western played an outmatched Austin Peay team who could only muster 154 yards of total offense, and in last weeks match-up with Alabama there were only 11 possessions total for both teams (very much below the national average of 13).  So even though Alabama thoroughly outclassed Western the basic numbers won’t recognize that.  The numbers that will recognize Western’s defensive ability are yards per attempt data and turnover percentage.  So far this season, the Hilltoppers are tied for 92nd nationally in defensive yards per passing attempt with 7.6, T-58th nationally in rushing yards per carry at 3.62, and  have forced interceptions on 3.3% of pass attempts which places them 41st nationally.  So while their basic total defense numbers indicate that they’re an elite defensive team, in reality they’re a very average defensive team who has individual strengths and weaknesses like any other squad.


If you’re curious, Vegas sees Kentucky as 4.5-7 point favorites according to your individual preference on bookmaker (not that we condone that type of thing), so this game should be winnable for Joker’s ‘Cats.  The Toppers have a very suspect pass defense which should allow for Maxwell Smith and company to continue their upward tick.  Cause for concern comes with Western’s efficient passing game as they are ranked near the top of FBS in almost every passing statistic.  If our defense can improve at a rapid pace then I feel very good about Kentucky’s chances come Saturday, but if the offense struggles or our defense reverts to their Louisville game ability, it could get competitive.

Article written by Jonathan Schuette

27 Comments for Looking Ahead to Western Kentucky

  1. LoLwUt?
    12:01 pm September 11, 2012 Permalink

    Blast em in the booty!

  2. Alec
    12:17 pm September 11, 2012 Permalink

    I have a $5 bet with my roommate that we lose

  3. Linda Taylor
    12:20 pm September 11, 2012 Permalink

    Jonathan, FYI, and I admit this is picky, but anytime you are typing something for print, you don’t double space after the end of a sentence. In typesetting it is a big nono. I can’t tell you how many translation tables I’ve written that take out double spaces.

  4. AWAT
    12:33 pm September 11, 2012 Permalink

    I’m getting tired of hearing all this jazz about how good WKU is and how they are going to beat us. Since when has WKU been a powerhouse???? A couple of years ago they DIDN”T WIN A GAME!! I’m not saying we are good at all, but come on, WKU????

  5. WERUK
    12:53 pm September 11, 2012 Permalink

    UK 38
    WKU 14

  6. Yesterdays
    1:05 pm September 11, 2012 Permalink

    This game will mirror the Kent State game. The defense will get pushed around, drop 10 into coverage and give up yardage but only a couple field goals. The offense will move the ball with 20-25 straight bubble screens and 50-60 draws up the middle. Then, at some point, we will bust one of those plays or look deep and break the game open. Western will play conservatively, so I predict UK 28 WKU 9

  7. btowncatfan
    1:05 pm September 11, 2012 Permalink

    Change of subject, internet rumors of Charlie Strong talking to Arkansas. Apparently the talks are serious. Interesting to see where this goes.

  8. btowncatfan
    1:06 pm September 11, 2012 Permalink

    BTW, UK 38 WKU 10

    1:08 pm September 11, 2012 Permalink

    Internet rumors of Choker Joker talking to Anderson County High School. Talks ARE serious.Interesting to see where a Coach NO ONE wants goes….

  10. Officer Grover Sales III
    1:10 pm September 11, 2012 Permalink

    Take the points and bet against UK. That’s what I do EVERY game and my Phoney Police Pants are full of CASH!!!

  11. Lol
    1:23 pm September 11, 2012 Permalink

    9 I don’t know if you are a troll, but troll or not, that’s funny.

  12. PuhLease
    1:27 pm September 11, 2012 Permalink

    seriously 7? internet rumors. come on, those things are a dime a dozen.

  13. btowncatfan
    1:31 pm September 11, 2012 Permalink

    UL the place where no coach wants to stay. (except Krags)

  14. HillJackHater
    1:42 pm September 11, 2012 Permalink

    YEW KAY the FINAL Resting Place for Division 1 Football Coaches!!

  15. TootLessIn'aTrailer
    1:44 pm September 11, 2012 Permalink

    #7 At least SOMEBODY want’s ULs Coach….seen ANY “rumors” for Choker other than a local HIGH SCHOOL???

  16. Dark Helmet
    1:56 pm September 11, 2012 Permalink

    Failed to mention that WKU got 6 sacks on Alabama. WKU actually has a good secondary just not against Alabama, but who does. UK should win but I do think there is a little merit to the close spread.

  17. cats11
    2:01 pm September 11, 2012 Permalink

    4 – Hate to break it to you, but you don’t need to be a powerhouse to beat Kentucky.

  18. GasX
    2:21 pm September 11, 2012 Permalink

    15 you ain’t tootin in yo trailer? we Card fanz be tootin in the unemployment line yo.

  19. CardFan
    2:23 pm September 11, 2012 Permalink

    17 yes you do. takes a powderhouse like us to beat you kitties. wait, you said powerhouse not powderhouse. never mind. l yeah!

  20. BgCat
    2:39 pm September 11, 2012 Permalink

    I’m not saying Wku is going to win, but they are better than most give them credit for. Alabama only had 100 more total yards than Western, even though the toppers had 4 turnovers.

  21. Matt
    3:18 pm September 11, 2012 Permalink

    The tops will give the cats a game. Sure WKU lost bobby rainey from last year’s team (that put up a really good fight against UK), but they have a talented back field (for sunbelt standards) and they return a lot of defensive players. Sure UK has a better offense than last year, but the defense is a lot worse than last year. WKU’s offense isn’t as good as last year, but there defense is better. Something will give, just a matter of what. I expect it to be a close game and a fun game. If WKU can take care of the ball, then they stand a legitimate chance at taking down UK. Another note, WKU does have 3 straight (maybe 4 can’t remember) #1 recruiting classes for the sunbelt (yes I know it’s a weaker conference), and the cats have been at the bottom of the SEC for recruiting.

  22. WkuCatsfan
    3:28 pm September 11, 2012 Permalink

    Western has a lot to prove here, and is a lot more talented than most people think.

    WKU- 28

    And hey Calipari, get WKU on the basketball schedule every year!

  23. Warm Air Biscuits
    3:34 pm September 11, 2012 Permalink

    WKU is not that good, but neither is UK. Bama basically used that game as a scrimmage, and even WKU knows it. If Western passes the ball they are utterly stupid. Our D-line has more gaping holes than Deja Vu.

  24. Matt in Franklin
    8:07 pm September 11, 2012 Permalink

    If WKU runs the ball the whole game, we’re in trouble…

  25. Peterman
    12:43 pm September 12, 2012 Permalink

    Are tickets for this game really $46/each? I am heading to Lexington Saturday and need 4. I just checked this on Ticketmaster and am shocked and somewhat appalled. Anyone have any suggestions?

  26. Garmaster
    1:41 pm September 12, 2012 Permalink

    25. If I were you, I’d just head down to Commonwealth and walk around. I’m sure you’ll find scalpers and can get a better deal than that. You might even walk up to the ticket window and get a better deal than that.

  27. The Football Chick
    5:49 pm September 12, 2012 Permalink

    Hey Peterman… last Saturday I saw no less than 25ish scalpers, including several going tent to tent selling them. That is truly your best bet. I saw tickets go from $9-$25 each