We talked with Billy Rutledge of the College Heights Herald, Western Kentucky's student newspaper about this week's game between the Hilltoppers and the Hoosiers. Here is the Q&A we had with him this week. Thank you for taking the time Billy.
1. How do they plan on dealing with the loss of Leon Allen?
Replacing a 1,500-yard rusher from a season ago will be no easy task. Leon was able to make impact plays in the passing game as well as on the ground. While backup running back Anthony Wales continues to be sidelined by a hamstring injury, WKU will rely on redshirt freshman D'Andre Ferby. Ferby is a hard runner and is certainly confident in his own ability. Behind him, former IU running back Anthony Davis will step into an increased role.
2. Do you think the Hilltoppers defense can slow IU's rushing attack?
While the Hilltoppers' defense was their Achilles Heel the last season, the unit has definitely improved, specifically the run defense. UAB transfer DT Jontavious Morris has become a clog in the middle of the line while several linebackers have found success early in 2015 including senior Nick Holt, Nick Newton and another UAB transfer sophomore T.J. McCollum. WKU linebacker Dejon Brown is also returning from an injury and will be expected to play a bigger role this weekend.
3. Vanderbilt was able to generate a lot of pressure on Doughty, has the offensive line improved a lot since?
While still somewhat banged up, the offensive line gave a much better performance the second week of the season. WKU was able to give Doughty plenty of time against the Bulldogs while also producing some big holes in the rushing attack. I would chalk the struggles of week one more to the great force that is the Vandy defense rather than a struggling offensive line.
4. What are two things IU fans should know about WKU that we haven't touched upon yet?
The WKU receiving core is looked at as the Hilltoppers biggest strength, but they might also have one of the best tight ends in the FBS. Senior Tyler Higbee was named the John Mackey Award Tight End of the Week after his performance against Vandy and has quickly become Brandon Doughty's favorite target.
The secondary of the Hilltoppers is their biggest weakness. Add on the fact that senior cornerback Wonderful Terry will be sidelined with an ankle injury and any team looking for big gains against the Hilltoppers can gain them through the air. Converted running back to cornerback Joe Brown has really stepped up for the Hilltoppers. He made what may be the biggest play of the season so far stopping Vandy's two-point conversion with under a minute remaining.
5. There is rain in the forecast. How will this affect the passing game?
I wouldn't say it will that much. Doughty is an experienced QB and while rain may play somewhat of a factor, it won't ultimately change what he does or the offensive game plan.
6. Back to the injuries. How are Wonderful Terry and Dangerfield progressing? Will they be able to play?
Dangerfield is slowly returning back to normal. He hauled in four catches for 44 yards last week, while Terry will be held out. Besides that Dejon Brown will return to the field this week.
7. Special team, especially the return game has been awesome, does WKU do something schematically or is Towner just that good?
Kicker Garrett Schwettman is as automatic as Adam Vinatieri in the Super Bowl, the senior hasn't missed a field goal yet and currently ranks second in points scored all-time in WKU history. Towner, on the other hand, has the running ability of a spooked deer. The special teams, besides punting, has been great overall and is an added boost to what is already a special offensive team.