Brohm sticking to the script in home opener

WKU football Head Coach, Jeff Brohm, watches the players stretch during spring practice Tuesday, March 1, at Smith Stadium. (Mike Clark/HERALD)

Elliott Pratt

Western Kentucky coach Jeff Brohm started watching film on Bowling Green not long after he took the job in January.

Brohm, much like his predecessor Bobby Petrino, began scripting a game plan several months in advance of Friday night’s home opener against the defending Mid-American Conference champion Falcons.

Scripting the opening drive worked well for WKU in its last season in the Sun Belt Conference. The Hilltoppers opened nine out of 12 games with a score, seven touchdowns and two field goals on their way to an 8-4 record.

The rookie coach plans to keep that idea active leading WKU into its first season in Conference USA.

“Our format is almost exactly the same as we had last year. We feel like that’s a good system,” Brohm said. “I’ve been with coach Petrino a long time so we’re comfortable with it, our guys know the plan.

“I think we have a good idea of what we think they’re going to do. Obviously it’s the first game and they’re a new staff. We’ve studied Bowling Green’s personnel, where coach Babers was last year, but we feel like we’re ready to go.”

While at Eastern Illinois for two seasons, Babers won two Ohio Valley Conference titles and managed an offense that compiled over 5,200 passing yards and 3,000 rushing yards last season.

Babers brings that same mentality to a BGSU offense returning eight starters, including quarterback Matt Johnson who threw for 3,467 yards and 25 touchdowns in the Falcons 10-4 season that led to their 11th MAC Championship.

“They are an up-tempo offense, historically what they’ve shown in the past,” defensive coordinator Nick Holt said. “It’s going to be a factor. We have to keep guys fresh and we need to get some third-down stops, get off the field and get the ball back for our offense.”

Here are some things to watch for when Bowling Green visits WKU:

YOUTHFUL DEFENSE: WKU replaces 10 starters on a defense that held opponents to a Sun Belt Conference best 24.6 points per game in 2013. Terran Williams leads an all-new linebacker group with 53 career tackles. Junior defensive end Gavin Rocker leads a young, but experienced defensive line that generated 27 sacks and 20 QB hits in 2013.

QB MATCHUP: BGSU’s Matt Johnson looks to capitalize off his MVP performance in the MAC Championship game and Babers reputation with quarterbacks like Robert Griffin III and Jimmy Garoppolo could prep the QB for a big night. Doughty’s success with Brohm’s system led to a single-season school record 2,857 passing yards. Brohm and OC Tyson Helton have said that Doughty has complete control and understanding of an offense.

NEW COACHES: With Brohm and Babers both in their first year of coaching at their respective schools, Friday night’s game will be the only game on the first week of the season pitting two new head coaches. Babers brings in an all-new staff with the exception of fifth year secondary coach Nick Monroe.