WKU Insider answers a few questions concerning Saturday's game between the Hilltoppers and Redhawks

The Hilltoppers are back home this weekend and welcome Miami (OH) to The Hill on Saturday afternoon. WKU Insider answers a few questions about the upcoming non-conference contest.

1. Should we expect this game to be an offensive shootout? It shouldn't be. Offensively, the Redhawks are still searching for the answer. The are averaging 19 points a game, which includes being shutout at Wisconsin in week two. Nationally, Miami ranks 104th in total offense, gaining an average of 357 per outing. By the way, Miami just narrowly trails a pair of in-state schools in Kentucky (No.103) and Louisville (No.104) in offensive production.

This is game presents an opportunity for the WKU defense to regain some of its lost swagger. Don't anticipate a shutout, but the Hilltoppers should be able to keep the visitors near their average.

2. What type of atmosphere do you anticipate at Smith Stadium this weekend? For starters, Houchens-Smith Stadium will welcome a larger crowd for the Hilltoppers first Saturday home game than it did for the nationally-televised Thursday night Conference USA clash with Louisiana Tech. There's currently little chance of rain and the temperature should be hovering in the upper 70s at game time.

More importantly, it's Parent and Family Weekend on The Hill, so there will more than your average number of Topper fans around campus. Additionally, it's the Live United White Out game and the first 10,000 fans through the gates will receive a complimentary t-shirt.

3. Can D'Andre Ferby fill the role as the feature back? With his size, Ferby (6'1, 240) is the type of back that can bang away at a defense before really taking over late in a contest. While he doesn't have blazing speed, he does have good vision. His bulk allows him to shed defenders for extra yardage.

Needs to become more of a contributor in the passing game, which will likely come with time. Pairing him with a quicker back, like Anthony Wales, would make for an impressive backfield. He's proven to have a strong work ethic, which has head coach Jeff Brohm excited about his potential.

“Overall, I think he’s going to continue to improve, and we need him to be a big runner for us,” said Brohm. “I like the way he practiced and the way he works, and because of that, I know he’s going to improve each week"

4. This is Miami's greatest strength. I'll go with, offensive confusion. Redhawks will use a trio of quarterbacks, two of which will also happily leave the pocket. Their attack is near a 50/50 balance between run and throw, with the slight emphasis on the ground game. The quarterbacks are completing a dismal 49 percent of their attempts, but the ground game is where they could do the most damage. Miami's top three rushers are averaging a combined 5.1 yards per attempt.

If not offensive confusion, then creating turnovers. The Redhawks finished among the nation's leaders in 2014 in turnover margin and they are off to a similar start this season, currently ranking No.18 in turnovers gained.

5. What can the defense do to improve before the next game? Quite a bit. While size and depth played a role in the Hilltoppers defensive struggles to slow Indiana last weekend, improper tackling and slack coverage – both potentially a result of being tired – were also contributors in the defeat.

"They had good size and strength,” said Brohm. “They started to pound the ball at us a little bit. We weren’t able to get off blocks, and then when they got through the D-line we weren’t able to tackle as well and we bounced off tackles. We probably tackled high too much. When you get a runner at that size, you’re going to have to hit him low some and get him to the ground, which a couple of our corners did and it worked. Then when they did throw the ball, I thought we were too soft in coverage. We need to challenge things better. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a good second half.”

A week of practice and film study can improve the tackling and coverage concerns.


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