New, old faces highlight spring football storylines

Jeremy Chisenhall

WKU Head Football Coach Mike Sanford met with the media on Tuesday to preview the Hilltoppers’ start of spring practice on Thursday. With an entire new coaching staff and a lot of players leaving and entering the program, Sanford highlighted a handful of different topics and storylines to keep an eye on heading into spring ball. 

A new offense

With all the staff turnover this year, Sanford is implementing a new offense this season that WKU is going to work to perfect in spring ball.

“We’re going to be implementing new schemes,” he said. “We want to do a great job of teaching, and we’ve had an opportunity over the course of the last five, six weeks to integrate. Some meeting time, some film study as part of our offseason program.”

Starting quarterback Mike White commented on the offense, saying he’s not concerned about the new schemes even after having a wildly successful first year under former coach Jeff Brohm, and he’s eager to learn the offense.

“Being quarterbacks, not just me, all the other quarterbacks included, you want to get in that playbook,” White said. “You want to learn it as fast as possible, so when you go out in spring it’s not as much of a challenge.

“We might shift a lot more in this offense than we did previously, but at the end of the day we’re going to throw the ball like WKU knows, and we’re also going to run the ball.”

Leon Allen returns

Leon Allen is looking to return from his knee injury he suffered back in 2015. Allen was a dominant running back before the injury, running for 345 yards in a game against Army back in 2014, and posting 33 carries in a game against the Marshall Thundering Herd back in 2014 as well. Allen’s coaches and teammates are excited about his return.

“The situation with Leon is very similar to where it was when we first talked about him,” Sanford said. “The number one goal for Leon is to get this degree from Western Kentucky and to finish what he started on the football field as well.”

“He set records his first year,” said defensive lineman Derik Overstreet. “To have him come back off of injury and still be leading all the…I think he led in every weightlifting (category). He led in the squat, bench, everything. Just to have him come back should be good for the team.”

Next man up

WKU graduated 24 seniors last year, which means there’s plenty of opportunity for young players to step up into a key role this season. The loss of players like Forrest Lamp leaves huge holes at certain positions.

“I just had a chance to watch Forrest Lamp do some o-line drills out there on my way back into the office, and yeah, we’re losing a pretty good one out there,” Sanford said.

“That group is young, It’s inexperienced,” Sanford said of the offensive line. “The one thing that we’re going to try to get out of spring ball is to identify our seven or eight guys in that group that we feel like we can win with.”

The goal in spring football is going to be to figure out the versatility of its linemen, and to see who can play where, but positions won’t be set in stone, Sanford said.

WKU will certainly be relying on guys who have been waiting on their chance to start this year.

Reporter Jeremy Chisenhall can be reached at 859-760-0198 and [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @JSChisenhall.