Western Kentucky Hilltoppers 2017 College Football Preview, Schedule, Prediction, Depth Chart
Western Kentucky Hilltoppers 2017 Preview
The Western Kentucky Hilltoppers have their sights on another CUSA championship in 2017.
Overview: The Western Kentucky Hilltoppers turn to new head coach Mike Sanford to continue their dominant play in the CUSA and he will have the talent to work with on paper.
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Offense: Sanford might have a few worries in his first season at the helm of Western Kentucky but quarterback isn’t one of them with Mike White under center for his final year after throwing for 37 touchdowns against seven interceptions in 2016. WKY has listed Leon Allen on the roster but if he is not fully recovered from a knee injury, look for D’Andre Ferby and Quinton Baker to take over in the rushing attack. With five of their top seven receiving options gone, White and the Hilltoppers will need Lucky Jackson, Xavier Lane and Quin Jernighan to assume leadership roles. Three All CUSA linemen are also gone so Western Kentucky has some holes to fill.
Defense: The Western Kentucky Hilltoppers are best known for their explosive offense that can score quickly and in bunches which overshadowed what was an impressive defense. The Hilltoppers were tough to run on in 2016 but the team suffered some significant losses to a productive front seven but the quality depth from last season will fill the void. WKY returns tackle Chris Johnson and DE Derik Overstreet and their combined 21 TFL while Joel Iyiegbuniwe leads the linebacking corps with ten TFL a year ago. Virtually everyone returns in the Western Kentucky secondary except safety Branden Lester but Marcus Ward returns from injury and could fill that void. Expect the Hilltoppers to be solid in most areas once again even though their depth might not be at the 2016 level.
Special Teams: Nacarius Fant (40+ yards on KR) and Kyle Towner (2 TD’s on PR) were outstanding returners while punter Jake Collins and the placekicking twosome of Ryan Nuss and Skyler Simcox also return for a fantastic special teams unit.
Outlook: The Hilltoppers do have a few question spots but this was a deep team in 2016 and should perform at a high level once again and be in line for another conference title.
9-2 vs. Eastern Kentucky
9-9 @ Illinois
9-16 vs. Louisiana Tech
9-23 vs. Ball State
10-7 @ UTEP
10-14 vs. Charlotte
10-20 @ Old Dominion
10-28 vs. Florida Atlantic
11-4 @ Vanderbilt
11-11 @ Marshall
11-17 vs. Middle Tennessee
11-24 @ Florida International