TOPPER EXTRA: Six Players to watch in WKU vs. ODU

Jeremy Chisenhall

This year’s Homecoming game between WKU and Old Dominion looks like it could be an offensive battle. The East division foes sit within a game of each other in the conference standings, so this week’s game could go a long way in deciding the outcome of the division.

With WKU sporting one of the most explosive offenses in the nation, but one of the weaker defenses, the star players from each offense will be on display. Here are the three key players for each team.

1. Mike White 

WKU redshirt junior quarterback

White had big shoes to fill replacing Brandon Doughty this season, and he has done a respectable job thus far.

White is ranked seventh in the nation in passing yards, and his 16 touchdowns have helped to get WKU ranked 28th in the nation in points per game.

Old Dominion ranks 47th in the nation in passing yards allowed, so White’s passer skills will be put to the test.

2. Taywan Taylor

WKU senior wide receiver

While Old Dominion has one of the better passing defenses in the conference, the White-Taylor connection will certainly make it difficult on their secondary.

Taylor is coming off his best game of the season, as he recorded a season-high 197 yards and one touchdown against MTSU.

He’s also ranked fourth in the nation in receiving yards with 870. He’s a high-volume target, ranking ninth in the nation in receptions with 54, so Old Dominion may have to give Taylor some extra attention in pass coverage, which could open up other holes for the offense to exploit.

3. Nicholas Norris

WKU senior wide receiver

If Old Dominion decides to devote extra coverage to Taylor, Norris will become a major weapon for White.

Norris, the second-highest targeted receiver on the team, has 647 receiving yards and leads the team with eight receiving touchdowns.

Norris is capable of being the team’s top receiver if Taylor is getting shut down. He showed that against Miami (Ohio) when he had 11 catches for 187 yards and a touchdown, while Taylor had just three catches for 58 yards that week.

If ODU tries to shut Taylor down, watch for Norris to emerge as White’s number one target.

4. Jeremy Cox

ODU sophomore running back

Cox isn’t exactly one of the nation’s leading rushers this season. He’s got 420 yards, but he averages 6.1 yards-per-carry and he has nine touchdowns.

Plus, he’s coming in with a lot of momentum against Massachusetts last week.

Cox ran for 162 yards and two touchdowns on 24 attempts. WKU allowed I’Tavius Mathers to run for 143 yards last week in their win over MTSU, so the front seven will have to be focused on limiting Cox’s yardage this week.

5. Zach Pascal

ODU senior wide receiver

Old Dominion’s passing game isn’t as explosive as WKU’s, but Pascal is far and away Old Dominion’s best receiver.

Pascal leads the team in receptions with 33, yards with 425 and receiving touchdowns with four. If Old Dominion’s passing game is to have success, Pascal will have to be the most-used receiver for the Monarchs.

6. David Washington 

ODU senior quarterback

Washington hasn’t had nearly the kind of year that White has had for WKU. Washington has just 1,250 passing yards this season, but he’s got a chance to have a career day due to WKU’s passing defense.

WKU ranks second to last in the nation in passing yards allowed this year.

Washington’s coming off one of his better games of the year, as he threw for 248 yards and a touchdown last week, so he’ll be looking to build on that against the weakest pass defense he’s seen this season.

Reporter Jeremy Chisenhall can be reached at 270-745-6291 and [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @JSChisenhall.