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Know the Foe: Western Kentucky

Sixth-year senior quarterback Brandon Doughty (12) helped lead No. 25 Western Kentucky to the Conference USA title.

AP photo

Sixth-year senior quarterback Brandon Doughty (12) helped lead No. 25 Western Kentucky to the Conference USA title.



A look at No. 25 Western Kentucky, which faces USF on Monday at the Miami Beach Bowl

Nickname: Hilltoppers

Record: 11-2
Wins: 14-12 at Vanderbilt, 41-38 vs. Louisiana Tech, 56-14 vs. Miami (Ohio), 49-10 at Rice, 58-28 vs. Middle Tennessee, 55-28 at North Texas, 55-30 at Old Dominion, 35-19 vs. Florida Atlantic, 63-7 at FIU, 49-28 vs. Marshall, 45-28 vs. Southern Miss* 
Losses: 38-35 at Indiana, 48-20 at LSU

Coach: Jeff Brohm (second season, 19-7)

The breakdown: While the Hilltoppers clearly are carved in Brohm's image (replete with a pass-centric spread offense), the roster is covered in Willie Taggart's recruiting fingerprints. WKU's roster features 23 seniors, many of whom were recruited by Taggart during his three seasons (2010-12) as Hilltoppers coach. The most prominent, sixth-year senior Brandon Doughty, leads all Division I quarterbacks in completion percentage (71.8), touchdowns (45) and points responsible for (286), while ranking second in passing yardage (4,594). Five of his targets have at least 38 catches including 6-foot-6 East Lake alumnus Tyler Higbee (38 catches, 563 yards, eight TDs), who could pose a matchup nightmare for the Bulls' 4-2-5 alignment. On the ground, redshirt junior Anthony Wales emerged as the primary ball carrier when Manatee High alumnus Leon Allen
-- a 1,500-yard rusher in 2014 -- was lost early in the season with a knee injury, and stands 14 yards from 1,000. Defensively, WKU ranks 60th nationally (390.5 ypg) and is tied for second with 31 turnovers gained (including 17 interceptions). Veteran coordinator Nick Holt's unit will present a smorgasbord of looks -- odd and even fronts, a double eagle with two three-techniques over the guards -- and bring a lot of pressure. Complicating matters is the fact WKU has blown out most of its opponents, making it tough for Bulls coaches to detect tendencies.

Odds and ends: With three points in the bowl game, WKU becomes the highest-scoring team in school history, surpassing last year's squad (577). ... WKU's roster features no fewer than nine former bay area prep stars including Higbee, a first-team All-Conference USA selection. ... 'Toppers offensive line coach Neil Callaway is a former offensive coordinator at Alabama (1997-2000) and Georgia (2001-06). ... Redshirt junior LT Forrest Lamp has started 35 consecutive games at his position, and has started all 38 games of his career.

Taggart's take: "They're a good football team. They're a veteran football team and they know what it's like to win, they know what it's like to win a bowl game. (Doughty) is very dynamic. He's one of the better quarterbacks in the country, and he has some very talented receivers. It's not like you can just go and focus on one guy, they've got a variety of weapons out there that you've got to be ready for. ... It's not the first potent offense we've faced this year, so it's not like there's any fear or concerns from that standpoint, it's just us going back and -- like I always say -- being at our best and playing our ballgame and being the best USF can be."

[Last modified: Tuesday, December 15, 2015 9:23pm]


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