WKU PREVIEW: Four Days and Counting

Bloomington - The Hoosiers' season opener is now just four days away, and today we look at four names to know on Coach David Elson's Hilltopper squad...

K.J. Black, QB – Like Indiana, Western Kentucky entered fall camp with the quarterback situation unsettled as Black and David Wolke battled for the starting job. But unlike Indiana, the Hilltoppers have publicly ended the debate about who will be under center this weekend. Black and Wolke split time a year ago, with Black attempting 134 passes and Wolke 124. But WKU Coach has opted to go with the sophomore Black as the full-time starter this fall. Black completed 88-of-134 passes for 1,007 yards with eight touchdowns and eight interceptions in '07. He also aided a very good WKU ground attack with 324 yards and two more scores. Wolke, a senior who transferred from Notre Dame, was the opening day starter in '07 but suffered a concussion in the season-opening 49-3 loss to Florida. He was also set back by an injury suffered in the weight room in the spring that kept him on the sidelines for most of spring practice. Black will be missing his top receiver from a year ago, as Curtis Hamilton is gone after catching a team-best 66 passes for 873 and four TDs in '07.

Marcus Minor, CB – This 6'0", 200-pound senior cornerback is a graduate of Indianapolis' Arlington H.S. and one of two likely starters from the state of Indiana along with right tackle Lloyd Pressley (Evansville Reitz H.S). After graduating from Arlington in 2004 Minor spent two seasons at Joliet (Ill.) Junior College and then made a big impact for the Hilltoppers last fall. He is the team's top returning tackler with 61 stops a year ago, and also had six tackles for loss and two sacks last season. He's one of WKU's tri-captains for the IU game and one of only two returning defenders who started all 12 games last season along with defensive end Dan Cline.

Tyrell Hayden, RB – Western Kentucky is looking to have a more balanced offensive attack than it did a year ago, but expect Coach Dan Hinson's team to still lean on Hayden as much as possible. This 5'10", 190-pound junior from Lexington, Ky., rushed for 1,134 yards and 10 touchdowns on 205 carries in 2007. Despite those big numbers, Hayden was pushed for the starting job during fall camp by 5'9", 215-pound junior Marell Booker, who averaged 7.6 yards/carry in limited action a year ago (50 carries, 381 yards, 5 TDs). But Hayden was officially named the starter late last week and will play a big in Western Kentucky trying to win the time of possession battle against the Hoosiers.

Greg Ryan, LT – The 6'4", 295-pound Ryan was one of a handful of fourth-year seniors who Coach David Elson asked to redshirt a year ago so that they could play in 2008 and aid WKU's transition to Division I-A. By the time the season came to a close, only two of those players had actually stayed on the sidelines for the season – Ryan and kicker Tanner Siewert. Ryan returns as a fifth-year senior and anchors a Hilltoppers' offensive line that will be tested by the Hoosiers' front four. He has made the move from guard to left tackle this fall as well and figures to lined up opposite Greg Middleton on Saturday. Western Kentucky's chances of keeping this game close rely on its offensive line keeping the quarterback K.J. Black from winding up on his back, and Ryan will play a big part in trying to do that.

What's coming up:
On Monday – Five Numbers to Note
On Tuesday - Four Players to Know
On Wednesday – Three Big Concerns
On Thursday – Two Key Match-Ups
On Friday – One Bold Prediction


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