#55 Western Kentucky Football 2015 Preview

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers

Overall Rank: #55
#1 Conference USA

Western Kentucky Team Page#55 Western Kentucky Football 2015 PreviewBuy Western Kentucky Football Tickets

Western Kentucky comes into the 2015 season with plenty of returning experience and a ton of momentum after winning two epic shootouts over Marshall and Central Michigan in the Bahamas Bowl. Head Coach Jeff Brohm did a nice job in year one of taking over for Bobby Petrino and getting the remaining players to buy in and position Western Kentucky for a run at ten wins in 2015.

2014 Record: 8-5, 4-4
2014 Bowl: Bahamas Bowl
Coach: Jeff Brohm (8-5 at Western Kentucky, 8-5 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Tyson Helton
Defensive Coordinator: Nick Holt

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Leon Allen, RB, 1,542 yards
Passing: Brandon Doughty, QB, 4,830 yards
Receiving: Jared Dangerfield, WR, 825 yards
Tackles: Nick Holt, LB, 111
Sacks: Two with 5.5
Interceptions: Brandon Leston, S, 4

Other Key Returnees: G Brandon Ray, K Garrett Schwettman, DE Gavin Rocker, DT, Bryan Shorter, WR Taywan Taylor

Key Losses: WR Willie McNeal, TE Mitchell Henry, C Derrick Stark, OT Cameron Clemmons, LB Terran Williams, DB Cam Thomas

Offense will dictate the direction of the Hilltoppers season in 2015 once again. Brandon Doughty returns at quarterback and defensive coordinators throughout Conference USA will have plenty of sleepless nights. Doughty threw for 4,830 yards last season and will be looking to break 5,000 with the great supporting cast that returns this season for Western Kentucky. Leon Allen will compliment Doughty with a big-time threat in the running game. Allen ran for over 1,500 yards last season and had 13 rushing touchdowns. Jared Dangerfield highlights a balanced receiving corps, leading the Hilltoppers with 825 receiving yards last season. Taywan Taylor returns as well at wide receiver and he will be looking to make a run at 1,000 receiving yards just like Dangerfield this season. The offensive line, led by left guard Brandon Ray, will be relied upon heavily to continue to protect Doughty at a high level. Opponents only registered 19 sacks over the course of 13 games last season. With a lack of ready to play depth at quarterback, the pass protection has to be on point all season long.

Defensively, Western Kentucky was horrendous last season as opponents scored nearly 40 points per game. Linebacker Nick Holt, the son of defensive coordinator Nick Holt, led the team in tackles in 2014 with 111. Holt provides plenty of leadership to a defensive unit that is going to need it in order to build up their confidence. Defensive tackle Jontavious Morris, a transfer from UAB, is going to need to be a huge addition to a defensive line to help  take pressure off of Bryan Shorter and Gavin Rocker.

The Bottom Line:
Looking at the schedule, Western Kentucky should be able to do some damage against teams like Vanderbilt and Indiana in the non-conference portion of their schedule. The trip to LSU on October 24th is the biggest challenge for the Hilltoppers. In conference play, Louisiana Tech visits on September 10th and other key home games include a visit from Middle Tennessee State on October 10th. The rematch against Marshall on November 27th also has the look of a game that could allow both teams to combine for well over 100 points again. If Brandon Doughty has another huge season at quarterback and the defense improves to even just below average then Western Kentucky will win ten games and win the Conference USA title in 2015.

Projected Bowl: St. Petersburg Bowl

2014 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 160.3 (67th in nation, 7th in conference)
Passing Offense: 374.3 (2, 1)
Total Offense: 534.6 (4, 2)
Scoring Offense: 44.4 (6, 2)
Rushing Defense: 220.8 (111, 11)
Pass Defense: 289.2 (121, 2)
Total Defense: 509.9 (120, 12)
Scoring Defense: 39.9 (121, 12)
Turnover Margin: 0.38 (37, 5)
Sacks: 2.00 (74, 8)
Sacks Allowed: 1.46 (25, 3)


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