WKUInsider is tracking Western Kentucky football's advanced stats in 2014, including breakdowns by units and national percentile rankings.
To download the full sheet, click HERE.
1) Offensive line: Lost in Brandon Doughty's big day against Marshall is how well the offensive line played. The Herd's defensive line featured NFL prospect James Rouse, but the Tops still only allowed two sacks allowed in 52 dropbacks. Even more impressive, 19 of 33 running back carries gained 5 yards or more (58 percent,) WKU's highest rate of the season. Looking at just the raw numbers (not adjusted for strength of schedule,) you could rank WKU's offensive line in the top 25th percentile (or better) in every significant category.
2) Receivers: WKU spread the ball around a lot this year, with seven players averaging 3 or more targets a game. While the Tops will be replacing Doughty next year (barring a sixth-year waiver from the NCAA,) WKU still gets four of their top five most targeted receivers back, losing only senior Willie Mcneal. Junior Jared Dangerfield led the team in targets by a good margin (88), and touchdowns (10), but the individual performance we want to recognize is sophomore Taywan Taylor.
Taylor caught 44 passes in 56 targets, for a catch rate of 79 percent (highest among all receivers.) What's more stunning, his 56 targets were only fourth most on the team, but he led the team in receiving yards (739), with Dangerfield 1-yard behind him (738). The closest to Taylor's yards per target average (13.2) among players averaging 3 or more targets a game was senior tight end Mitchell Henry (9.8).
To understand just how good a season Taylor had, here's a comparison of his stats to some of the top wide receivers nationally in 2013 (last year.)
• Taywan Taylor, sophomore (2014,) Western Kentucky: 56 targets, 44 catches, 79 percent catch rate, 13.2 yards per target.
It's important to remember all those draft picks played against much tougher defenses than Taylor faced this year. Still, it shows at-worst, Taylor could be a nightmare for Conference USA defenses the next two years.
3) Running backs: All the talk surrounding WKU's passing offense, can't overlook Leon Allen finished the regular season with nearly 1,500 yards rushing and 12 touchdowns. Allen started the season off a bit slow, and WKU started gradually splitting his carries with Ace Wales after the third game of the season--but Allen really came on in the second half of the year. He didn't earn a 50 percent opportunity rate once in WKU's first six games, but reached that marker four times in WKU's last six.