Jody Demling

Hilltoppers are among the nation's top-rated offenses

Western Kentucky visits Denton, Tex., on Thursday night for a Conference USA contest against North Texas

Western Kentucky defeated a 2-3 Middle Tennessee State team by 30 points on Saturday. All three of MTSU’s losses came to Power Five schools, including Alabama.

North Texas was defeated by 59 points to an FCS Portland State team on Saturday. Mean Green Coach Dan McCarney was relieved of his duties immediately following the rout.

Clearly, each team is entering Thursday night’s game with completely different mindsets. But the Tops must remain focused when they take the field in Denton. This week is an important one because it will say a lot about this Hilltopper squad if it can take care of business in the manner in which it is expected to, knowing that a date with the LSU Tigers awaits next Saturday in Baton Rouge.

“Just like Coach [Brohm] talks about every week, you try to get better and fix the mistakes that you had, and we had plenty of mistakes in that [MTSU] game,” offensive coordinator Tyson Helton said. “Right now we’re focused on another team win.”

North Texas interim head coach, Mike Canales, is not downplaying Thursday’s challenge at all.

“This is like the Green Bay Packers coming in here,” he said.

Helton’s offense hasn’t missed a beat since star running back Leon Allen went down with a season-ending leg injury in the September 10 home opener against Louisiana Tech. Led by Taywan Taylor, Tyler Higbee, D’Andre Ferby and of course, Brandon Doughty, the Hilltopper offense has averaged 49.5 points per game in Allen’s absence.

However, Helton can see past the current offensive tear, and notices some things that his offense can improve on.

“I think it’s the little things more than anything,” he said. “We had a couple of small penalties, just the smoothness of a play [was off sometimes] and a couple of missed assignments here and there.”

These may seem like trivial mistakes, but when your team is facing a hungry opponent the week before the biggest opponent of the season like Helton’s is, every little thing matters.

? “This will be a fired up group. They’re gonna (sic) want to have something to prove,” he said.

Helton also spoke to how well running back Ace Wales has done in recent weeks, noting that he will continue to gain carries as time progresses. He also said that offensive lineman Matt Nord could be ready to go soon, but couldn’t say exactly when that time will be.

Thursday night is more of a mental test for the Hilltoppers than anything. Win or lose, there will only be nine days for Helton to prepare to try and match one of the premier offenses in the country on October 24.

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