REECER’S PIECE: WKU’s trip to Bama a positive experience

John Reecer is the sports editor of the College Heights Herald during the spring 2016 semester.

John Reecer

Who would’ve thought that losing by four touchdowns would feel so good?

Okay well maybe not so good, but the Hilltoppers’ trip to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, this weekend was definitely a positive one. They beat the spread against the best team in the nation while also making the Crimson Tide’s head coach, Nick Saban, go absolutely berserk on his offensive coordinator, Lane Kiffin.

Seriously, if WKU would’ve lost by 40 points the trip still would’ve been worth it just to see Saban’s tirade aimed at Kiffin.

However, the real success of the trip was the very surprising play of WKU’s defense. In just the first half, the Toppers only gave up one touchdown to the Crimson Tide.

The normally dominant Alabama running game was relatively shut down by WKU as the Crimson Tide only ran for 3.9 yards per rush that afternoon.

All opinions aside, that is incredibly impressive.

Not only did the defensive front seven impress, but the WKU offensive line also played very well against a program that has fielded some of the best defenses in the past few years.

Redshirt junior quarterback Mike White usually had enough time to throw the ball and the line also only gave up a handful of sacks.

Despite these positives, there are still some obvious red flags the Toppers need to address.

The obvious red flag is the defensive secondary was regularly picked upon time after time by a freshman quarterback.

Too many times there would be a Crimson Tide receiver running down the field wide open after breezing past the cornerbacks and safeties.

Yes, our defensive backs were being challenged by world-class athletes. However, top-tier teams in Conference USA have very talented receivers as well and the Toppers need to improve in coverage by then.

Another weakness was the quarterback play for WKU.

Coming into the game, White was the nation’s leading passer. However, it’s easy to be that after you played one of the worst defenses in the nation.

Against the nation’s best defense, White simply didn’t play well. While I sympathize with White considering the competition he went up against, 10-24 for 135 yards and an interception just isn’t good enough.

Graduate student Tyler Ferguson and redshirt sophomore Drew Eckels did play better and were more composed than White, but they both played during garbage time.

Overall, White is still obviously the starting quarterback of this team, but he really took a step backward this week as Ferguson and Eckels both brought something a bit different to the table.

White’s performance against Miami University at Ohio this coming weekend will really be something to watch as this could turn into a potential storyline.

Despite the few negatives, you have to be pleased with the Toppers after this weekend. The game was still quite interesting in the third quarter, plus beating the spread against the Crimson Tide is impressive.

If you still aren’t impressed, take it from future Hall of Famer Saban who said after the game he doesn’t think that he “has ever been more disappointed after a victory.”

While the game did turn into a snooze fest in the fourth quarter, this WKU program can look back on this season and know that it gave the Crimson Tide and a future Hall of Fame coach quite the headache.

Reporter John Reecer can be reached at 270-745-6291 and [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @Reece_12_Falcon.