Football Notebook: Toppers shaping up halfway through the season

WKU junior tight end Mitchell Henry fights off Louisiana-Monroe sophomore safety Mitch Lane and junior safety Cordero Smith during the second half of their game at Malone Stadium in Monroe, Louisiana. 

Elliott Pratt

MONROE, La. — WKU’s defense had problems stopping the run in the early parts of the season, but that has been a different story in the last two weeks.

The Topper defense has held its last two opponents scoreless in the second half and held Louisiana-Monroe to only five yards rushing in the second half en route to WKU’s 31-10 win in the bayou Thursday night. 

It’s not just the defense who has showed up in the second half, but the offense is producing points for a whole 60 minutes, too.

Prior to the Toppers game against Morgan State, WKU has been outscored in the second half 51-20. Since then, WKU has won three straight and outscored its opponent 49-10. 

Junior tight end Mitchell Henry said playing well in the second half has become a central focus in practice over the weeks.

“These past two games, starting off with Navy, we played really good in the second half. That’s been one of our big emphasis in practice, is just to finish the game,” Henry said. “In these first three games or so, we let them slip because of the second half. South Alabama, that’s all it was was the second half. That’s been the big key the past couple weeks is just finish the game.”

Doughty sets WKU FBS record

Junior quarterback Brandon Doughty sealed his role as WKU’s starter at quarterback in last week’s win over Navy. Thursday night against ULM, he just showed off.

The signal caller tossed for a WKU FBS record 370 yards to 11 different receivers in the Toppers’ first Sun Belt Conference win of the season. 

Getting a deep ball threat is what the coaches wanted to establish against ULM. Junior Joel German led all receivers with five catches for 55 yards, Henry had catches for 65 yards, and junior wide receiver Willie McNeal had two grabs for 47 yards including the game’s opening score on a 33-yard pass from Doughty.

“It was really good to see,” Petrino said. “The early one to Willie he ran a great route and it was a really nice throw. Then we had some good plays where we caught the ball and ran and broke tackles. It was fun to see the guys make plays out there.”

But Doughty remains critical of himself, saying there were a few passes he took in the game that would bother him for a bit, but overall, he was pleased with opening up the big plays.

“Whenever you can get big plays it’s easier to score, obviously,” Doughty said. “It was good. We had the opportunities to get big plays, and we took advantage of it. We saw on some film they give up some stuff deep, so we took our shots when they presented themselves.”

Antonio does it again

Antonio Andrews continues to show that he is one of the nation’s premier running backs after 202 all-purpose yards in the win. 

Andrews stayed consistent through out the game on the ground with 27 carries for 155 yards and one touchdown. Andrews also hauled in one catch for 22 yards.

Andrews currently leads the nation with 882 yards on 124 carries (7.1 average yards per carry) and in touchdowns with nine.