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College Football Preview – WKU

Toppers start the Post-Brohm era

The Hilltoppers are coming off two historic years, winning back-to-back Conference USA Championships and their third straight bowl victory.

Filling the massive shoes of former Head Coach Jeff Brohm, who left for Purdue, is not going to be easy. However, that’s what Mike Sanford has been charged with as the Hilltoppers’ new head coach. Sanford, a former WKU assistant in 2010, returns to Western Kentucky from Notre Dame University, where he was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks’ coach for the Fighting Irish the last two seasons. Some consider him one of

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the brightest offensive minds in the game. Good thing, since he is replacing perhaps the brightest offensive mind in the game.

Western Kentucky lost several of last year’s high-profile players, including Taywan Taylor, Forrest Lamp, and Ace Wales. Yet, there is plenty of talent left on the hill. Quarterback Mike White is back; last season he was third nationally in passing efficiency while guiding the Hilltoppers’ offense to more than 45 points a game. However, White lost his top three targets due to graduation. Look for wide receiver Nacarius Fant to fill the void in the pass-catching department.

Fans should root for senior running back Leon Allen. At one point in his college career, Allen was one of the best ball carriers in the country. However, a devastating knee injury in 2015 forced him to miss nearly two years of football. He was granted a medical hardship waiver, which makes him eligible this season. He may be the X-factor for the Hilltoppers’ offense. If Allen is back to full form, watch out.

With significant change in the coaching staff, it’s reasonable to expect a few growing pains for Western Kentucky in 2017. With their talent, though, the Hilltoppers just might make a run at a third straight Conference USA Championship.

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