WKU aiming to re-establish run game against Army

Junior running back Leon Allen (33) celebrates with teammates. The Hilltoppers defeated the UTEP Miners 35-27. Mike Clark/HERALD

Elliott Pratt

WKU’s offense hasn’t had many setbacks this season.

A season-low 10 points at Louisiana Tech two weeks ago is only a blemish to the Hilltoppers’ 40 point per game average, good for second in the nation.

While much of the credit goes to the aerial assault led by redshirt senior quarterback Brandon Doughty, WKU’s run game has been the signature of its success for many years. But that area suffered in last week’s win over UTEP with just 34 total yards.

That didn’t stop junior running back Leon Allen from having a productive outing against the Miners. While only rushing for 3.4 yards on average in the Homecoming win, Allen switched gears and led the team in receptions with eight for 88 yards.

Head Coach Jeff Brohm credits explosive blitzing schemes that threw WKU’s run game into a mess and an aggressive press coverage with shutting down the pass game at LA Tech.

The Hilltoppers hope Saturday’s game against Army isn’t reminiscent of the first half of last year’s contest. In a game WKU won 21-17 at Army, the Black Knights kept the Hilltoppers off the scoreboard in the first half.

“They really shut us out on offense in the first half last year,” Brohm said. “So it wasn’t one of our better games. They’re a physical team. They play hard. They’re disciplined as well. We’re going to have to have all three units play well to win.”

The offense caught a break with the defense scoring its fifth touchdown on the season against UTEP. Wonderful Terry’s pick-six that gave WKU the lead set the Hilltoppers offense up with confidence and momentum to run the ball.

Allen rushed for 35 yards in the fourth quarter to help seal WKU’s win. The team hopes to re-establish its run game for 60 minutes against an Army defense allowing 182 yards per game on the ground.

Sophomore tackle Forrest Lamp said in order to put the rushing attack back in place, they’ll have to repair the mental lapses they’ve had in recent weeks.

“We’ve made a lot of mental mistakes,” Lamp said. “We’ve missed a D-lineman here or a linebacker there — just a lot of mental mistakes. We just have to really tighten up on our focus when it comes to the meeting room and watching film.”

Spreading the ball out of the backfield is an option the coaches have tried to execute all season, with Allen being the primary back. Sophomore Anthony ‘Ace’ Wales was held out of the UTEP game with an ankle injury he suffered at LA Tech. Brohm is optimistic that Wales “will be ready to play” and noted Allen’s toughness as the game wore on.

“I thought Leon played one of his better games,” Brohm said. “He was physical, made yards when there weren’t any yards there, was very good out of the backfield, played tough and he’s probably our best player on offense — just a really solid player. So we need him to do what he does, but he can’t be out there all the time. We have to have ways to spell him, give him a break, give him a rest and hopefully, Ace can do that this week.”