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April 20, 2013Follow @SeanWKURivals
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A quarterback threw for 314 yards and five touchdown passes?! A wide receiver finished with 115 yards and three touchdowns?!
What's gotten into the Hilltoppers offense?
The answer is simple. A full order of Bobby Petrino with a side order of Jeff Brohm.
The quarterback was Brandon Doughty, who has asserted himself as the offensive leader during the five week spring practice session. He is the most poised, confident, and sure-handed signal caller out of the three that are vying for a starting spot in this high octane offense. Doughty barely got a whiff of what it's like being a starter two seasons ago when he tore his ACL on his first series against Indiana State in 2011. After spending most of last season wearing a knee brace and being listed third on the quarterback depth chart, Doughty is now seizing the moment under a new offensive system.
The wide receiver was Willie McNeal, who overcame an ACL tear of his own prior to the 2011 season, has molded himself as the Hilltoppers' top playmaking pass-catcher during the spring. McNeal finished second on the team last season with 43 grabs with 556 yards, while leading the Tops with six touchdown grabs last season. If there was ever a time for Western Kentucky to actually have a 1,000-yard receiver in a single season, the time is now, and the player is Willie McNeal.
Let's not forget about the defense, which held the White Team to only 159 total yards on offense. There were questions regarding the defensive line, but Bryan Shorter (4 tackles, 1 sack, 2 tackles for loss), T.J. Smith (5 tackles, 1 sack, 2 tackles for loss), and Raphael Cox (3 tackles, 1 sack, 2 tackles for loss) showed off their capabilities. Andrew Jackson led the linebackers with 6 tackles and 2 tackles for loss while Ba'ree Boyd capped off his impressive spring with 5 tackles, 1 sack, and 2 tackles for loss.
Cam Thomas began emerging as a high-caliber playmaker in the secondary last season in nickle packages and that momentum has carried over into defensive coordinator Nick Holt's scheme this spring. Thomas led the Red Team with two interceptions during Saturday's Spring Game.
To the surprise of no one, the Red Team (which consisted of first-team players) destroyed the White Team by a final score of 42-3. The victorious team tallied 509 yards of total offense (357 passing, 152 rushing) and six touchdowns, all through the air. The new air-raid offense saw touchdown tosses from 32, 33, and 36 yards out.
It's definitely a new era in Western Kentucky football.
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