A new game week feature, WKU Insider collects questions, selecting five, from our forum members regarding the upcoming contest and attempts to answer them. Here's the five questions for Western Kentucky home opener against Louisiana Tech:
1. How has the offense responded this week in practice after the dropped passes from Thursday night? The multiple dropped balls, specifically in the first half, during the Hilltoppers 14-12 win at Vanderbilt was a bit out of character for the group and something that is likely a thing of the past. Actually, it was something that we saw improve during the second half, when Brandon Doughty completed 13 of 16 attempts.
Offensive coordinator Tyson Helton said that the group worked on “technique” and “hand position” during the week of practice.
“They want to come back out and show the world that we are pretty dang good receiving corp,” said Helton. “We'll be just fine.”
2. What the injury status heading into the game? Hope. That would be the right word to use when discussing the injury status for most Hilltoppers currently out or held to a more limited role. No official timetable has been given for the returns, but there is hope that some could see their roles increase this week.
Jared Dangerfield, who played briefly in the opener, is likely a game day decision. Joe Brown is also likely a day-to-day decision. Joe Manley is likely probable against La Tech. Matt Nord is out as he rehabs from a broken foot and there is still hope that he could rejoin the team this fall. Anthony Wales status remains unclear, but likely out for at least another game.
3. Will the home-opener be a sell-out? Tough to say, but let's hope so. Tickets remain available, so if coming, grab a friend. Houchens-Smith Stadium expanded to the current capacity of 22,113 in 2008, but has only reached that mark three times. The stadium opener in 2008 against Murray State and a pair of games during the 2012 campaign – Louisiana-Monroe and Southern Miss – are the only games to eclipse capacity.
WKU has enjoyed seven games with over 20,000 in attendance.
4. Will the WKU defense continue to play well even when facing a spread team like La. Tech this week? Yes, the defense will continue to prove that they have made great strides since the end of last season, but don't expect them to limit the Louisiana Tech offense to just 12 points.
The Bulldogs offense is led by Florida transfer Jeff Driskel, who guided them to a 62-15 win over Southern in their opener, and he's coming in confident of his ability to work against the Hilltoppers defense.
“They have a lot of guys coming back,” he said. “I think they have eight returning starters and a couple of transfers that came in. They are a talented group, but we think that if we go out and play our game, we will have a really good shot to win when it is all said and done.”
5. Will the offensive line give Doughty enough time and protection for him to be able to make his reads? Louisiana Tech's ability to pressure Doughty last season was crucial in its 59-10 blowout victory over the Hilltoppers. The Bulldogs registered four quarterback hurries and two sacks, while the constant pressure led to eight passes broken up and four interceptions.
The Hilltopper offensive front is more experienced and the game plan will be adjusted to account for the expected barrage of La Tech defenders. How well the WKU offense does – at all positions – will dictate how often Doughty to hit on Thursday night.