PREVIEW: WKU vs. Tennessee

Publisher/WKUInsider.com
Posted Sep 5, 2013


The Toppers' and the Volunteers kickoff at Neyland Stadium this Saturday at 11:21 a.m. CT

The Toppers' and the Volunteers kickoff at Neyland Stadium this Saturday at 11:21 a.m. CT.

Read our full preview below for details on the matchup.


TV: SEC Network (Click HERE for details.)

Radio: Hilltopper IMG Sports Network

Weather: As of Thursday night (according to www.weather.com,) the forecast calls for a "Mostly Sunny" day, with a high of 88 degrees and a low of 68 degrees.


Three matchups to watch

1) WKU defensive line vs. Tennessee offensive line :

In the 35-26 victory over Kentucky, the Toppers' won at every position group on the field, including a very young defensive line more than holding their own against Kentucky's offensive line.

But that could be a more difficult task this Saturday.

Tennessee has four offensive linemen projected in the top 16 at their positions for the 2014 NFL Draft (according to CBSSports.com rankings,) including tackles Jawuan James and Antonio Richardson.

James, listed at 6-foot-6 and 324 pounds, has started 37 games in his career at Tennessee, while Richardson is considered a borderline first round/second round pick.

For WKU to win on Saturday, it is vital for the Toppers' defensive line to keep pace with new head coach Butch Jones' uptempo offense, against an offensive line that will likely run the ball much better than Kentucky did.

2) WKU offensive line against Tennessee defensive line, ILB A.J. Johnson :

There aren't many linebackers in Division 1 football better than WKU's Andrew Jackson.

But one of the handful that can compete at his skill level is Tennessee's A.J. Johnson.

The 6-foot-2, 240 pound prospect is projected as a first round draft pick in 2014 by some NFL experts.

Tennessee's defensive line is also loaded with size and skill, including Daniel McCullers, a projected top 10 defensive tackle in the 2014 draft.

But WKU's offensive line as a unit dominated Kentucky's upgraded, veteran defensive line, led by junior Cameron Clemmons and seniors Sean Conway and Luis Polanco.

The Toppers' power over Kentucky in the trenches helped WKU to big gains in the run game, leading to more time and space for receivers on play-action passes for new quarterback Brandon Doughty.

For WKU to pull out the victory on Saturday, the offensive line doesn't necessarily have to dominate as strongly as they did against the Cats.

But they'll have to at least hold their own against a veteran and talented Volunteer front seven.

3) WKU wide receivers, QB Doughty against Tennessee secondary:

The Toppers' found themselves wide open all night against Kentucky, with Doughty throwing 27-for-34 (including a few drops) for 271 yards and a touchdown.

Could he perform just as well against a better SEC opponent in their home stadium? It's possible.

Tennessee's projected secondary starters include former three-star junior Justin Coleman, followed by redshirt sophomore Brian Randolph, sophomore LaDarrell McNeil and freshman Cameron Sutton.

While more talented and experienced than Kentucky's secondary, the gap isn't far.

And behind the offensive mastermind in WKU head coach Bobby Petrino, quarterback Brandon Doughty could have himself another big day.


WKU Week 2 notes: CLICK HERE.

Stat of the week:

WKU's 35-26 win over Kentucky in Week 1 was Petrino's eighth straight victory against the SEC East, dating back to his previous coaching position at Arkansas.

Quote of the week:

Petrino on Saturday's matchup: "We know it's a challenge -- but we know we don't have to do anything extraordinary."

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