Hilltopper faithful, admit it: you were concerned, or maybe a touch anxious about how the WKU passing attack would perform without Brandon Doughty behind center.
Of course, the program's prior quarterback left The Hill holding a slew of season and career records. For the many big shoes to that have been left to fill by many greats WKU's history, none have been as large as the one's left behind by Doughty, now a rookie with the Miami Dolphins.
The race to become the new face of the WKU offense was thick from the start of spring practice and didn't come to an end until last Friday. Mike White edged out Drew Eckels and Tyler Ferguson for the opportunity to start the season-opener against Rice. The competition was so close, when announcing White would be the starter, Brohm also stated that the others would be ready to play, if needed.
Instead of feeling the heat of the spotlight, which included playing on national television, White responded like a seasoned veteran. The Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., native threw for a career-best 517-yards on 25-of-31 passing, with a career-tying three touchdowns. It's just third time in program history that a Hilltopper quarterback has thrown for more than 500 yards. The other two belong to the previously mentioned Doughty.
"Any time you can make that many big plays and throw the ball down the field that accurately, that’s a testament to the hard work he’s put in," WKU head coach Jeff Brohm said. "We had a tough competition between quarterbacks and made him earn it. He definitely put in the time and to see him come out and play like this, it was great. It was rewarding to see that performance by him and I’m happy for him."
White had the comfort of a veteran offensive line and a plethora of returning skill players around him, but still, he needed to deliver and he did. He spread the ball around to nine different receivers, while keeping the ball out of defenders hands.
"I think it’s just a testament to the guys that we have around me," said White. "I think it all starts up front with the big brothers of this offense; we go how they go and they played well tonight. Our receiving corps and running backs, if you just get them the ball in space then they take care of the rest."
White would help direct an offense that racked up 649 total yards, averaging 10 yards per play, to route Rice 46-14. The offensive output equaled the sixth most for a single game in program history. Four of the others in the top six, where Doughty-led offenses. It also marked the fifth straight game that WKU has scored more than 45 points in a contest, something never before seen in Bowling Green.
Yeah, I'd say the shoe fits. Quite well.