The Toppers have had two weeks to prepare for their first ever Sun Belt Conference game as they welcome Florida International. The Golden Panthers sit at 0-4 themselves and are coming off a 48-35 loss at Louisiana-Monroe last week. Each week, InsideHilltopperSports.com will compile the three biggest keys on each side of the ball to keep WKU in the game:
Keep the offensive momentum going:
At Navy, redshirt freshman quarterback Kawaun Jakes was solid in his first collegiate start. But he also had the benefit of the play calling, which came in the form of short passes and screens. The Toppers need to get in a rhythm early to keep the good momentum they started before, going.
Cut the mistakes out:
With a young team, this might be easier said than done. They'll still be some mistakes in every game. But WKU needs to get rid of the small stuff that can be corrected, like the false start penalties that have killed drives earlier this season.
Welcome back, Jake Gaebler:
Gaebler returns from a hamstring injury that caused him to miss the last two games. He should be a difference maker in his return. He and Jakes have shown a good chemistry in practice, but it'll be on both to keep that going so Jakes can work with the ball in his hands.
Don't let quarterback Paul McCall have time to work:
McCall had a solid game against WKU in Miami last season. It'll be on the D-line to get some pressure on him to force him out of the pocket. If McCall is given time in the pocket, he's proven that he can be very efficient in finding his targets.
Keep an eye on junior wide receiver Greg Ellingson:
It's no surprise how much of a stud sophomore wide receiver T.Y. Hilton can be. But what gets lost is how reliable a second receiver Ellingson can be. There's no doubt WKU will have to try to somewhat contain Hilton, but if they lose sight of Ellingson, he can make them pay just as much.
Don't forget about the run:
While FIU has done most of its work throwing, as a former offensive lineman, coach Mario Cristobal is trying to get the run game going as well. It's just a matter of time before it does and at running back, Darriet Perry definitely has the ability to be effective on the ground.
After the game, catch InsideHilltopperSports.com's extensive post-game, with a full game wrap and audio from coach David Elson
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