WKU Hilltoppers: Keys To The Season, Top Game, Top Transfer, Fun Stats
WKU Hilltoppers: Key To The 2022 Offense
Don’t neglect the running game.
If everything clicks and the passing game works like 2021, then fine. Go for it. Just average closer to five yards per carry instead of four – last year’s attack averaged 4.1 yards per try. To be fair, it was the first time the program averaged over four yards per pop since 2016.
The temptation will be to try keeping it all going considering the receiving corps is loaded and Austin Reed should be a fine replacement for Bailey Zappe, but running the ball behind this line should work.
It took the entire season for the round attack to take over a game – that might be a stretch – but the Hilltoppers had their first 200-yard rushing game in the bowl win over Appalachian State. It’s okay to keep running.
WKU Hilltoppers: Key To The 2022 Defense
Third down stops – get more.
No one’s asking for this to be the Alabama defense, and it’s tough to get into any sort of a rhythm when the offense scores and moves so fast, but the D has to be able to catch its breath, get on the field, and then get off of it.
The pass rush was okay and the takeaways were there – WKU was second in the nation at forcing turnovers. However, teams converted a whopping 46.5% of their third down tries against the D.
The 2020 defense allowed teams to convert just 32% of their chances.
WKU Hilltoppers: Key Player To The 2022 Season
DE Juwuan Jones, Sr.
Can the Hilltoppers keep on generating pressure without DeAngelo Malone? The defense wasn’t dominant behind the line, but it did enough to keep forcing pressure and keep offenses making mistakes.
Jones is more of a 3-4 type of end or a smallish tackle than a true pass rusher, but the 6-3, 275-pounder was disruptive making 3.5 sacks and 6.5 tackles for loss to go along with 45 stops. If he can come up with more than five sacks, he’ll be doing his job.
Of course, the real key player is …
WKU Hilltoppers: Key Transfer
QB Austin Reed, Jr.
Jarret Doege quietly put together a very, very nice career with 10,494 yards at Bowling Green for two years and then for three seasons at West Virginia. Just when he was ready to be the new star for WKU … gone. He entered the transfer portal.
In comes Reed, a 6-2, 230-pound passer who threw for almost 4,100 yards and 40 touchdowns in 2019 for the Argonauts – he threw for 523 yards in the D-II National Championship. He might not be Zappe, but he’s going to wing it around.
WKU Key Game To The 2022 Season
at UTSA, Oct. 8
In a watered down Conference USA – with Marshall out of the way – UAB is going to be dangerous, but that’s a home game for WKU. Going to Florida Atlantic could be an issue, and Charlotte and Middle Tennessee could be interesting road trips, but …
UTSA. That’s the nemesis of last year who got the Hilltoppers twice – including in the Conference USA championship. Beat the Roadrunners this time around on the road, and everything else should fall into place for a second straight title appearance.
WKU Hilltoppers: 2021 Fun Stats
– WKU 2020 Scoring: 228 – 2021 Scoring: 619
– Passing Yards: WKU 6,072 – Opponents 3,753
– Punt Return Average: Opponents 20 – WKU 9.5