Since WKU fielded a football team, its has welcomed countless foes into their house in south central Kentucky. On Sept. 10 the Toppers will extend that welcome to a new guest.
After mental mistakes plagued WKU in its season opening 14-3 loss against in state foe Kentucky, the Toppers looks to regroup and focus in on stopping the Navy in the season's first true home game at Houchens-Smith Stadium. Last week the team was the designated home team as they faced UK at LP Field in Nashville, Tenn.
The matchup will mark the second time that WKU has faced the Midshipmen. The first matchup came back in 2009 when Navy defeated the Toppers 38-22 in Maryland.
That game was the first career start for WKU quarterback Kawaun Jakes as he completed 22-28 of his passes for 276 yards and two touchdowns while also rushing for a score. If Jakes can replicate that success, the Toppers have a real good chance of picking up their first win of the season.
The Midshipmen enter the game coming off a 40-17 defeat of defending FCS runner-up Delaware. In the win Navy received great production from senior quarterback Kriss Proctor who is in charge of leading Navy after the graduation of former star Ricky Dobbs.
In his debut as the full time starter, Proctor rushed for 176 yards and three scores while connecting on four of his seven passes for forty-six yards and a touchdown.
Coming into the 2011 campaign, the Navy offense looks to build upon their success running the triple option under head coach Ken Niumatalolo. The offense returns eight starters from last year's team. This will prove to pay dividends for the Midshipmen.
While the Midshipmen have many players they can depend on to pick up yards, they will look for big production from Proctor as well as a trio of running backs.
The biggest threat is senior fullback Alexander Teich. In week one, Teich rushed for sixty-five yards on 14 attempts. Teich is coming off a junior season where he rushed for 863 yards and five score, which was good enough for second on a team who finished the season ranked sixth in rushing.
Senior running back Aaron Santiago will also look to be a big part of the offense was he recorded 68 all-purpose yards and two scores in the team's defeat of Delaware. Santiago rushed the ball 27 times for 201 yards and a score while also catching 13 passes for 251 yards and three scores in 2010.
The trio is rounded out by senior Gee Gee Greene who recorded four rushes for 38 yards against the Blue Hens. Greene had a stellar junior season as he had 72 rushing attempts for 492 yards and five scores while finishing second on the team in receiving catching 18 passes for 286 yards.
While the Midshipmen are primed to have another successful season on the offensive side of the ball, the Navy defense is looking to rebuild.
The Navy defense only returns three of eight starters from 2010's defense. Last season the defense struggled mightily finishing the campaign ranked 75th in the nation in total defense, 82nd in rushing defense, and 78th in passing defense. To make matters worse, the Midshipmen lost their top four and six of their top eight tacklers from the previous season.
As Navy defensive coordinator Buddy Green looks to rebuild, he must look to make significant improvements from their defeat of Delaware. In the victory over the Blue Hens, Navy's defense surrendered 363 yards of total offense including 220 yards on the ground, which will fall nicely into the lap of the WKU offensive plan as the Tops will look to feed star running back Bobby Rainey.
The bright spot for the defense was the turnover differential as the Midshipmen forced two Delaware turnovers, which allowed them to capitalize on the scoreboard. If the Midshipmen defense wants to find a way to stifle the WKU offense, they must pressure quarterback Jakes and convert their short field drives into points.
It is very fitting that the Toppers are facing a US armed forces academy this weekend as Sunday marks the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. So WKU will look to defeat Navy this weekend, we also salute the cadets from Navy and thank them for defending our freedoms.