Preview 2018: Previewing and looking ahead to the WKU Hilltoppers season with what you need to know.
Preview 2018: WKU Hilltoppers
– What You Need To Know: Offense | Defense
– Top Players, Key Game, Fun Stats
– What Will Happen & Win Total Prediction
– Recruiting Class Analysis | Schedule Analysis
– WKU Previews 2017 | 2016 | 2015
Yeah, so WKU didn’t win a third straight Conference USA championship. It’s okay.
The Hilltoppers lost head coach Jeff Brohm to Purdue, and they lost a slew of their devastating offensive weapons from the team that rolled to the 2016 conference title.
But the passing game still worked under new head coach Mike Sanford, and the team still got to a bowl game. Trying to keep in mind that Western Kentucky football has only been a full-on FBS thing since 2007 – and won just four games from 2008 to 2010 – going to a bowl still matters.
But at this point, it was an okay season. Not a great one. The bar is set a whole lot higher now for a program that’s supposed to be great no matter what.
Throw in the recent lineage of fantastic head coaches – Willie Taggart, Bobby Petrino, Brohm – and even though last year was a success in several ways, it was still the first losing season since 2010.
But now is the time for a bit more understanding since Sanford has a massive rebuilding job to do. Just 35-years-old, the former Boise State and Notre Dame offensive coordinator is growing into the gig. But this season, he’ll need his defense to get the job done.
Seven players return to an okay D that needs to come up with more big plays and has to generate more pressure. The secondary should be among the best in the conference, and despite the loss of leading tackler Joel Iyiegbuniwe, the linebacking corps should be okay. If the pass rush is stronger, there should be a huge improvement.
The offensive side will always produce at WKU. The running game might have been the worst in college football, and the seventh-best passing game might lose QB Mike White, but there are plenty of quarterback options, a strong backfield for the rotation, and the receivers are decent, but inexperienced.
The O line is a problem with three lost starters – it struggled last year – but again, WKU will figure it out. At least that’s the hope.
It’s one thing to have a down year and still go bowling. It’s another to have a down year and not get to six wins. Does WKU at the level where it can reload and go bowling no matter what?
If it happens this season, the program will know it has its next great head coach.