Toppers missing Higbee, but the show must go on

Jonah Phillips

Jonah Phillips

The Hilltoppers have certainly felt the absence of senior tight end Tyler Higbee, out of play with a knee injury, over the past two weeks.

While WKU managed to stay in the game for a half, the Hilltoppers’ offense was crying out for a big physical presence in the second half two weeks ago against the Tigers of LSU.

And while the Hilltoppers seemed to dominate Old Dominion this past weekend, Higbee has just two more weeks to reach top fitness if he wants to be ready to go for the clash with Conference USA powerhouse Marshall to end the season.

Simply put, a win against Marshall could lead to the Hilltoppers’ hosting the C-USA Championship game — assuming the Tops take care of business against Florida Atlantic and Florida International first.

With Head Coach Jeff Brohm saying Higbee is still not 100 percent, you have to wonder if the four-wide set that was so prevalent in the LSU game will remain at large in big games until Higbee’s return.

That’s not to say the Hilltoppers don’t have options at tight end. There are perks to being one of the most productive passing offenses in the nation over the past two seasons.

Higbee’s roommate and fellow senior tight end Tim Gorski has come back from his Achilles tendon injury and grabbed two receptions against LSU and another two against Old Dominion, totaling 63 yards in the two contests.

But at the time of his injury, Higbee was the nation’s leader in yards receiving by a tight end. In two games, he surpassed 100 yards receiving. That’s the kind of impact player the Tops lost when Higbee went down.

With two games of inactivity, the title of the nation’s leading receiving tight end has since been rescinded, but with three contests left, including the crucial clash with Marshall, Higbee still has a lot more to give in his final campaign.

Brohm and the team undoubtedly will look for Higbee to play a big part in any bowl game the Hilltoppers may participate in.

Higbee plays an invaluable part in this Hilltopper offense. But when you have an offense that has found so much consistent success, there are so many moving parts that one player’s absence can be temporarily plugged. Though the ship could be sturdier, it certainly won’t sink.

Besides a disastrous second half in Baton Rouge, the Hilltoppers have taken every opportunity in stride. Expect them not to falter this weekend in their Homecoming contest.

Florida Atlantic this week and Florida International the following week won’t roll over easily, but Brohm and his boys will look at these games as opportunities to tweak offensive and defensive systems in preparation for the postseason.