WKU enters Saturday’s Game at Commonwealth with a 1-1 record after losing at Alabama last week. WKU is slowly picking up some steam in the world of college football by becoming bowl eligible last season for the first time since making the move to FBS in 2008. Losing to Alabama only 35-0 also helps their street cred. No matter what way you look at it, their West Coast Offense proved formidable by becoming the first school to go a whole game without a 3-and-out against Alabama in 77 games. This week they’ll continue to do what they can to challenge SEC schools.
Despite losing their all-time rusher Bobby Rainey to graduation last season, the Toppers still pack a punch on offense. 2009 Kentucky Mr. Football Antonio Andrews does a little bit of everything for the Toppers at the Running back position. In high school he was quarterback, now he returns kicks, catches passes out of the slot, and is the teams #1 Running back. He is currently ranked 8th nationally in all-purpose yards. However Mr. Andrews and their running core in general have had some trouble being careless with the football lately, something they cannot do if they expect to make some noise at Commonwealth tomorrow.
Their passing game is highlighted by their go-to Senior TE Jack Doyle. He is recognized nationally as one of the best at his position, landing himself on the preseason watch list for the John Mackey Award, which goes to the nation’s best Tight End. QB Kawuan Jakes looks to him early and often, with Doyle leading the team in receptions for the past 5 games dating back to last season. Jakes is an efficient passer if you give him time, completing 70 percent of his passes this season. Pressure will once again be the name of the game for the Cats defense.
Bottom Line: WKU’s Big Three can do some damage to a defense, but their offense does not generate too many big plays. If the defense can actually slow their running attack, it could be a turning point for that side of the ball.
WKU’s strengths rely in their front seven. Last week their defense recorded 6 sacks against Alabama, while holding the Crimson Tide to only 103 yards rushing on 3.3 yards a carry. Their MLB Andrew Jackson is a stud that gets all over the field. Jackson led the team last year in tackles, tackles for loss, and was 3rd on the team in sacks. If UK wants to run the ball, they have to neutralize Mr. Jackson before they can get anything substantial on the ground.
The good news is that their secondary is weak sauce. Last week AJ McCarron threw 4 TDs and 219 yards on only 14 completions. While you can argue that Alabama simply has better athletes on the field, UK’s aren”t that much worse than Alabama’s. Now that Max Smith has had two weeks under his belt, expect the Cats to take risks down the field early. Even if they don’t go down field a lot, our WRs proved last week that once they get the ball they can make athletic plays to get big yards.
Bottom Line: Expect the Cayts to continue their high-octane no-huddle offense with little emphasis on the run. This week we could see some things in the passing game that we haven’t seen since a guy named Woodson was playing QB.