Know Your Opponent: Western Kentucky Hilltoppers

 Western Kentucky will bring some rowdy fans with them when they play in Bloomington on Saturday.  Image: WKU Herald

Western Kentucky will bring some rowdy fans with them when they play in Bloomington on Saturday. Image: WKU Herald

Written By Sammy Jacobs (@Hoosier_Huddle)

This Year’s Record: 2-0 (1-0 1st in C-USA East)

Head Coach: Jeff Brohm (2nd Year)

Overall: 48-80 (.375) 2nd year

At Western Kentucky 10-5 (4-4)

Bowl Appearances: 1

Last Years Record: 8-5 (4-4 3rd in C-USA East Won Bahamas Bowl vs. CMU)

Bowl Appearances Since 2000: 2 Appearances (1-1 Record)

Mascot: Big Red

Colors: Red and White

Outfitter: Russell Athletic

National Titles: 1 (FCS Title)

Conference Titles: 11

Fun Fact:

Big Red found himself in the center of an international controversy in 2004 when the university filed suit against Mediaset, a television station founded by Italy's former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi. The suit claimed that Gabibbo, a mascot for some of the network's programs (i.e.: "Striscia la Notizia" and "Paperissima Sprint"), was an exact replica of Big Red. Gabibbo debuted in 1990, eleven years after Big Red, and Gabibbo's creator, Antonio Ricci, told Italian magazine Novella 2000 in 1991 that "Big Red became Gabibbo." In a later interview with The New York Times Ricci recanted the 1991 statement, saying he was only joking with the magazine.[4]

On December 6, 2007, Michelle Day of the College Heights Herald reported, "An Italian judge ruled against Western and in favor of an Italian television company in a $250 million lawsuit for copyright and trademark infringement. Western, Crossland Enterprises Inc. and Adfra sued television company Mediaset in 2002, saying the company copied Big Red to create Gabibbo, the star of a satirical news show the company airs in Italy."

1. Brandon Doughty is More Than A Wily Vet

Yes, Doughty is a sixth year senior. However, the guy can flat out throw a football. The Hilltopper quarterback was named the Preseason Conference USA Offensive Player of Player of the Year. In addition to that he is on the watch lists for the Manning Award, Davey O’Brien Award, Walter Camp Award, and the Maxwell Award.

Doughty has had a stellar career at WKU as he has passed for 8,450 yards and 65 touchdowns against just 25 interceptions. He has supreme accuracy as he has completed nearly 67 percent of his passes over his five-plus seasons and at 6-foot-3 and 220-pounds Doughty has great size to see over his line and find open receivers down field.

There is a weakness in Doughty, however. That weakness is that he is more or less a statue in the pocket and his escapability is limited at best. He will rarely run and if he does it usually results in negative yardage. he has 83 carries for minus-201 yards. In the season opener at Vanderbilt Doughty was under relentless pressure and sacked twice. He threw for only 209 yards on 19 of 30 passes. So it will be imperative for the Hoosiers front seven to get into the WKU backfield.

2. Tight End Tyler Higbee Could Create Problems for IU’s Defense

The Hoosiers have faced two quality tight ends in the season’s first two weeks in Adam Fuehne (SIU) and Jonnu Smith (FIU). This week’s challenger is 6-foot-6 Tyler Higbee, the Toppers leading receiver with 190 yards on 11 catches with one score. He started the season on the John Mackey Award Watch List for the nation’s best tight end and his week 1 performance (4 catches 102 yards 1 TD) earned him the Mackey Award Tight End of The Week honors. IU did a nice job on Smith last week holding him to just 25 yards, but they’ll have to do better to limit Doughty’s favorite target on Saturday.

3. Replacing Leon Allen Will be a Tall Task

Hilltopper running back Leon Allen suffered a horrific season ending knee injury in the third quarter of last week’s win over Louisiana Tech. Prior to the season, Allen was named first-team All-Conference USA and to the Doak Walker Award Watch List. He was also number two on our top-five opposing running backs list. Prior to his injury Allen rushed 27 times for 137 yards with a couple of touchdowns.

In our Q&A with WKU writer Billy Rutledge he told us that "while backup running back Anthony Wales continues to be sidelined by a hamstring injury, WKU will rely on redshirt freshman D'Andre Ferby (16 carries 53 yards). Ferby is a hard runner and is certainly confident in his own ability. Behind him, former IU running back Anthony Davis (two carries 29 yards) will step into an increased role."

4. WKU Secondary Will Be Wonderful-less

Western Kentucky’s defense is clearly the weak link in this chain, even if they are improved from a year ago. This week the Hilltoppers will try and stop Nate Sudfeld and the Hoosier offense without their best player in the secondary, Wonderful Terry.

Terry was ruled out for this week’s contest after suffering an ankle injury in last week’s 41-38 over Louisiana Tech. Terry had a breakout junior season when he recorded 43 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, six pass breakups and two interceptions. In limited playing time this season Terry had just three tackles. Joe Brown, a converted running back will look to step up and fill Terry’s shoes at corner.

5. Towner and Schwettman Put the ‘Special’ in WKU’s Special Teams

Kylen Towner is as an explosive kick return as I have seen in the last few years. He has four returns this season for 177 yards. He long is a 98-yard touchdown return in week 2. Towner is also great at returning punts, averaging 12.3 yards a return. The Hoosier kick coverage units will have to be on high alert when kicking the ball in Towner’s direction, because he is a game changer.

The Hilltoppers also have a terrific field goal kicker in Garrett Schwettman. The senior has hit almost 80 percent of his field goals in his career at WKU, including a perfect four-for-four this season including a career long of 46 yards. While settling for field goals may not be in the game plan for either team, WKU does have a weapon to use if the game comes down to that.