Here at Western Kentucky we love Willie Taggart, he took a struggling Western Kentucky program and laid the foundation for a program that is built to last (Minus Mike Sanford). Willie took over a 0-12 WKU squad in 2009 to winning 2 games in his first season on the Hill and would finish his next 2 seasons with a 7-5 record (2011-2012) before taking over as the head man at South Florida.
In 2018 to much surprise Willie landed the job at arguably one of the Top 10 college football programs of all time in Florida State. Taggart’s stay in Tallahassee would be short lived, as he would be fired after a 9-12 start not even completing his 2nd season at Florida State.
At South Florida (2013-2016) Willie took a mediocre program over and won 10 games in his final season before taking the job at Oregon. While at Oregon Taggart would have a below average season to Oregon standards and finish 7-5 (2017).
With the 2019 college football season winding down chaos ensues, coaches begin to get fired and players enter their names into the NCAA transfer portal. This offseason Taggart’s name has been floated around programs like USF and ODU according to reports.
It is not known yet if Taggart is looking to jump back into coaching, but when he is, there will definitely be a spot for him.
In a rainy, nasty, close game Western Kentucky pulls out the victory against rival Middle Tennessee.
Many things happened in this game, but it boils down to the fake punt ran by MTSU in the 4th fourth quarter that ultimately cost them the game. WKU would soon capitalize on that mistake and never look back.
WKU Head Coach Tyson Helton finishes the regular season 8-4 and will be going to a bowl game later to be named.
Former WKU coach Mike Stanford only won game 9 games in his 2 seasons at the helm for WKU.
A convincing win down in Hattiesburg this afternoon, Western Kentucky handles Southern Miss. 28-10.
Let me know if you’ve heard this one before, WKU’s defense carries them to victory. Allowing just 10 points to what was considered a high powered offense for Southern Miss.
With this win Western Kentucky moves to 7-4 on the year with a chance to win 8 next weekend with MTSU coming to town. If you would have told me that after the season opening lost to UCA I would call you crazy, but here we are. Credit to Tyson Helton and staff for the turnaround.
Western Kentucky graduate transfer Ty Storey is no stranger to Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville Arkansas, but Saturday he experienced a new first on that field; a win. He appeared in 15 games over three seasons with Arkansas, starting nine a year ago, but he never won a game as a starter. From the opening kick you could tell he had the leadership and energy to fire his teammates and finally walk off a winner. WKU showed poise on both sides of the ball against an SEC opponent, regardless of their record. This led to a 49-19 beatdown on the road that ensures them a 13th game.
Opening the game, Western Kentucky’s Antwon Kincade picked off the Hogs second pass of the game, giving WKU the early momentum they would not relinquish. The ensuing drive would set the pace for the game as Storey and Co steadily marched down the field, converting two fourth downs before Jacquez Sloan took the double option handoff 19 yards for the Toppers first score. Shortly afterward Arkansas RB Rakeem Boyd broke through the Hilltopper line for a 76 yard touchdown that would be their lone score of the half. Western Kentucky meanwhile, would get 7 on each of their remaining four drives in the first half. Ty Storey ran in touchdowns in each of the next two drives, on his way to 77 yards rushing. Jacour Pearson got in on the fun the next time around, getting wide open in route to a 69 yard touchdown pass from Storey, who finished with 213 yards and one touchdown passing, as well as protecting the ball and not taking any sacks. Gaej Walker pushed the score to 35-7 to go to the locker room on his lone touchdown run of the day, but put up 129 rushing yards on the day to lead his team. Pearson led all WR with 10 catches for 120 yards, including a few early fourth downs. Lucky Jackson added 7 catches for 70 yards.
Defensively, the Tops looked to be their old selves for the most part. Two 70+ yard runs by Rakeem Boyd are the only reason this game looked as respectable as it did, and even they were blemished by missed PATs qnd a two point conversion. After Kincade’s interception to start the game, Devon Key one upped him by catching a bad pass and running it in for the Tops lone TD in the second half. WKU was able to contain Arkansas all game no matter who they played. Cory Munson, the kicker, was perfect today with one field goal and six PAT. His best play of the game though might not even be a kick. After kicking a squib kick down the middle, Munson raced to the returner before tackling him on the Arkansas 14 yard line. It was an all around good day for the Tops.
With bowl eligibility already in grasp and a quarterback who is one of the most accurate in all of College football, WKU will look to stay explosive on offense and precise on defense. Next week the Hilltoppers have a bye before traveling to Mississippi to take on the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles before closing the season out at home vs. MTSU.
After the 1st conference loss WKU saw themselves drop very small in the USA Today poll to 69th. This coming off 4 wins in a row. This is a 2 spot setback from last week.
In week 1 USA Today had WKU at 114, week 2 they had WKU ranked 130, week 3 they had WKU 116, in week 4 WKU was ranked 117, in week 5 WKU was ranked 117, and in week 6 WKU was ranked 103, in week 7 WKU was ranked 74th, in week 8 WKU was ranked 67th. WKU is at home this week vs FAU. WKU ranks 5th in Conference USA ahead of, FAU, North Texas, FIU, Middle Tennessee, Charlotte, UTSA, ODU, Rice, and UTEP.
It all started in 2014 in Huntington, WV when Brandon Doughty threw a two point conversion in overtime to ruin Marshall’s perfect season. This marked Western Kentucky’s first season in the Conference USA and started a new rivalry between the two schools known as the Moonshine Throwdown. WKU would claim wins the next two seasons before Marshall came out on top in the last two games. Western holds a lead in the series 3-2 since 2014. They will travel to the same field in which this rivalry was born hoping to walk away victorious once again. Marshall appears to be a top three team Tyson Helton’s squad has faced thus far. They sit at 4-3 on the year coming off a nice win over FAU. Until then Marshall had little to show with losses to Boise State, Middle Tennessee and a blowout vs Cincinnati.
Marshall Offense vs. Western Kentucky Defense
Marshall is led on offense by Sophomore quarterback Isaiah Green. Green shows plenty of potential but has been wildly inconsistent this year. He has thrown 10 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. The Herd move the ball quite well, but turnovers have kept points off the board. They have fumbled 6 times this season and lost three in addition to multiple turnover on downs. Marshall’s strength on offense is its run game, led by Brendon Knox who has 719 yards and seven scores on the year. This match-up between Western’s defense and Marshall’s run game will be a key factor to watch in the game. WKU allows 110 rush yards a game to this point, giving up only 3.1 yards per carry. DeAngelo Malone and Kyle Bailey face a tough task in stopping Knox who is fresh off a 220 yard performance. This WKU defense is as good as it has looked in a long time and has 15 sacks on the year. This should be a good war in the trenches between the two teams as Marshall has given up 12 sacks this year. Marshall’s passing game presents its biggest tests by way of their tight ends. Armani Levias is the Herd’s leading receiver with 269 yards. He proves to be difficult to tackle as he stands 6’4 245 lbs and can run and catch like a receiver. Xavier Gains is the other tight end who has 20 catches for 195 yards and 2 TDs. Given WKU’s pass rush, expect a bunch of quick passes to these two. 15 different players have caught a pass for Marshall thus far, but Western’s secondary has looked great the past month.
Western Kentucky Offense vs Marshall Defense
Since Tyson Helton was hired, it was expected Western Kentucky would return an explosive offense like the ones he coordinated here just a few years ago. Until last week it seemed like that would not be the case, but the Hilltoppers put up 351 yards and 3 touchdowns on homecoming against Charlotte. This featured a flea flicker for a touchdown as well as Ty Storey catching a touchdown from Lucky Jackson. If this offense can stay hot and throw the ball it could have a good shot at winning. Marshall has 15 sacks in their last two games. They present a dominant line that can stop the run and get after the quarterback. The good news is they have struggled with running quarterbacks, so I expect some options and quick passes from WKU to keep Marshall honest early. That being said, they struggle in the secondary with only three interceptions all year. If Lucky Jackson or Jacour Pearson gets in space it could be a productive game for them. Gaej Walker will have his hands full but has proved he is a reliable rusher. Tavonte Beckett leads the Herd with 65 tackles and two sacks this year and Darius Hodge has 6 sacks so far. Western will have their hands full with this pass rush.
Marshall kicker Justin Rohrwasser has been reliable for the Herd all season going a perfect 7/7 on his field goals. He has missed only one PAT in 22 tries. Marshall does present a weakness in its kickoff coverage which gives Garland LaFrance and Clayton Bush an opportunity to set up good field position. On the Tops side, Cory Munson has been as reliable a kicker as WKU has had in a few years. He has struggled with accuracy but shows plenty of potential and plenty of leg strength.
Marshall sits as a 5.5 point favorite over WKU. The over/under is 45.
I expect this to be a defensive battle for the most part. Whichever offense can hit its stride first will have a great advantage. I expect a close game, most likely whoever has the ball last. Western at 5.5 seems like a good take win or lose. This WKU defense will prove it is legit and stay undefeated in C-USA play.