Pratt: New Topper offense is scary, and good

Redshirt senior Brandon Doughty (12) throws the ball in the first half of the WKU vs. Bowling Green State game on Aug. 29. Doughty broke three school records including single-game touchdown passes (6), single-game passing yards (569) and single-game completions (46). Brandon Carter/HERLAD

Elliott Pratt

For a single moment Friday night, Head Coach Jeff Brohm didn’t know what to do.

“Do I need to say anything or just questions?” he asked football information director Kyle Neaves before his first ever postgame press conference as a head coach.

Brohm proceeded to give an opening statement typical of what any coach would after a win, but almost as if his team didn’t just beat the snot out of Bowling Green State, 59-31.

This is the new wild, wild Western, featuring a gunslingin’ quarterback that is going to zip the ball around, put up a bunch of numbers and help score a lot of points.

And they’re going to take a long time to do it. There were 167 plays ran that lasted three hours and 39 minutes. WKU ran 96 plays against Bowling Green’s 71.

You could have left Bowling Green at the start of the game and driven to Nashville seen a movie and driven back to Bowling Green as the game ended.

I keep a play-by-play log for every game. I prepare roughly five pages in advance and usually only add one or two more pages by game’s end. I was on my seventh page by mid third quarter.

Two things are for certain — this is the kind of offense you’re going to see all year and I’m going to need some more notebooks.

“Well, we didn’t want to let the secret out of the bag too early,” Brohm said after the game. “We told people we were practicing that way to get ready for Bowling Green, which we were, so there is truth to that. But at the same time, we feel like nowadays that’s the new thing in football: to go fast and go with a great tempo.

Your players love playing that way. We practiced it all spring, all summer, all fall and our guys are in great condition.”

There’s not much you can do to top breaking six FBS records in the first game in a new conference. I’d be really surprised if they scored more than 59 points and accumulate more than 708 yards of offense again.

Quarterback Brandon Doughty may not throw for more than 500 yards every week or six touchdowns, but the numbers are still going to be pretty high.

We all saw a glimpse of this last year when Bobby Petrino introduced this pass-first offense, but we didn’t see it unfold into what was unleashed Friday night.

A lot of that had to do with having a proven running back like Antonio Andrews there as an indispensable weapon. Leon Allen could very well develop into that, but for now, they’ll use Doughty and arguably the most talented wide receiver core in WKU football history to get the job done.

If you’re a fan of pound-it-out, conventional offense, this isn’t for you. Friday night was evidence that WKU has too many weapons not to stretch the ball out across the field.

Brohm said he had studied the spread offense partly by observing Oregon’s scheme. The Toppers scored three times on quick receiver screen passes and ate up a lot of yards with more of those plays. It’s something Brohm admits will only work if your team is fit for it.

“Traditionally on offense, 11 guys have to execute to produce,” Brohm said. “Sometimes when you can get the ball on the perimeter fast, you don’t need all 11 to do well. You look at teams like Oregon — and I’ve been out to Oregon and watched them scrimmage before and sometimes they looked absolutely awful. But when they get in the game, they go so fast that they get some easy touchdowns, they get some cheap plays. We definitely want to try to get a few cheap plays every now and then as well.”

Call it cheap, call it what you want. It doesn’t matter as long as the offense works. The secret is out of the bag and if Friday night was any indication, it’s going to be very hard to stop it.