Last Saturday was one to forget for Topper Nation. Coach Jeff Brohm’s squad dropped its first game of the season in a game it easily could have won.
There are a lot of places to start when dissecting the loss, and one of them is on the defensive side. The defense looked like an inexperienced version of itself at
times, missing tackles and giving up big plays.
“We definitely need to improve. We didn’t do a good job of executing fundamentally in the second half [with] missed tackles and things like that,” senior defensive lineman Gavin Rocker said. “Assignment-wise I think we were ok. It goes back to the basic fundamentals of football that we need to improve on.”
This loss comes with a bit more frustration considering the implications at halftime. The score was 28-17 in favor of WKU, and the defense had limited Indiana’s efficient offense to only 10 points and recovered one forced fumble. A 91-yard punt return for a touchdown by IU didn’t help the team’s chances, but the Tops still led by 11 at the half.
Senior quarterback Brandon Doughty had a phenomenal game statistically, but looking back, it’s a performance he’ll probably want to forget about.
“Well when you throw the ball 46 times, sometimes you’re gonna (sic) have to turn it over. Its just part of the game,” Doughty said of his performance. “It’s kind of frustrating because you play so well for 44 snaps and then you have two picks. I take full blame for the loss. You can’t turn the ball over on the road [against] a Big Ten team that’s 2-0 and expect to win.”
At the half, Doughty had over 300 yards passing, two touchdowns and the offense was clicking. The two interceptions came on the first two possessions of the second half, and were Doughty’s first turnovers of the season.
“All our goals are still there. We said our goal was to win a conference championship, and it's still there,” Doughty said. "We lost by three to an undefeated Big Ten opponent. If I would’ve said that we lost by three, four years ago, you would’ve been thinking I was crazy.”
Next up for the Tops is a 1-2 Miami (OH) team whose two losses come to quality opponents (Wisconsin and Cincinnati).
One loss is not going to demoralize the team and set it back any further.
Doughty and Rocker both have confidence in the team as a whole.
“I have all the confidence in the world in our defense. Indiana’s offense is a good offense, Doughty said. "They’re ranked as one of the top in the nation. Seeing the growth of our defense from last year to [now] and them having to go back to the fundamentals, it’s good for us."
There really is no time for guys like Doughty and Rocker who are making their last go-rounds in Houchens-Smith Stadium to dwell on the loss.
“A lot of different aspects contribute to the loss, we’re gonna (sic) move forward,” Rocker said. “With it being [my] last time [I] want to really take it in and enjoy the experience of being a WKU football player.”