Offense: QB – Brandon Doughty
Bobby Petrino may have blown in and out of Western Kentucky in just over one full year, but he has changed the direction of the program for the foreseeable future. One area in which the team did not overly progress under Petrino though was the passing game. Given the history of the head coach this is honestly a little surprising, but if the Hilltoppers are going to challenge the Mids in this game in 2014 they will be relying on the play, and the progression, of senior quarterback Brandon Doughty.
In 2013 Doughty threw for 14 touchdowns and 2,857 yards, but there was always a feeling that something was missing. He threw far too many interceptions (14), took too many sacks (19), and went through periods where every time he put the ball in the air it was an interception waiting to happen. Doughty though has positives which outweigh his negatives. He completes passes at a high percentage when he is on his game, he can stretch the field with his arm, and he does not let his confidence get rattled even during his worst stretches. All this is going to be vitally important as the offense loses the best unknown back in America with the graduation of Antonio Andrews. This is Doughty's team now, for better or for worse, and he will be the key player for the Mids to shut down.
Defense: CB/S – Cam Thomas
The bad news for Western Kentucky is they return just two defensive starters. The good news for Western Kentucky is that one of those defensive players might just be the most disruptive guy on that side of the ball in the Sun Belt. Cam Thomas is a hybrid corner back/safety who has a nose for the ball and who started all 12 games for the Hilltoppers last fall and finished the season as a first-team all-league pick.
Thomas was a stat machine in 2013 as he did a little bit of everything for a defense which fed of his athleticism and range. He had 41 tackles, 10 pass break ups, 5 interceptions, one sack, and one fumble recovery. The Hilltoppers defense is at its best when Thomas is not tied to a position or an assignment and can use his natural instincts to alter a play. It is this dynamic ability which makes him such a threat and which means the Mids will have to read his keys on each play to keep him off of the stat sheet.
Opposition Danger Men: Western Kentucky
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