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Pump The Brakes On WKU In 2015

Everyone and their mother seems to like the Hilltoppers to run away with the Conference USA East title, if not the conference championship as a whole. I'm here to say "not so fast, my friend."

WKU defeated Marshall in the regular season finale to earn a bowl berth in its first year as a member of Conference USA.
WKU defeated Marshall in the regular season finale to earn a bowl berth in its first year as a member of Conference USA.
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Oh, hello there. Fancy meeting you at Underdog Dynasty. If you didn't bother to read the name attached to this article, allow me to briefly introduce myself: my name is Fletcher Keel, and I will be the new Western Kentucky beat writer for the upcoming season here at Underdog Dynasty.

If my name sounds familiar, that's because for about 18 months, I was the founder/editor of Wave The Red Towel - a WKU-specific site on the FanSided Network. While this is neither the time nor the place to talk about the demise, if you will, of WtRT, let me just say how thrilled I am to be apart of not only Underdog Dynasty, but also the SBNation family of authors. There is a lot of great talent on the network, and I hope I provide some fun and knowledgeable WKU things to say.

Now that that is out of the way, lets talk football!

It's no secret that WKU is a heavy, heavy, heavy favorite for the coming year. Brandon Doughty is back for a sixth year (that's longer than I've been following the Hilltoppers) to lead one of the nation's best offenses. Leon Allen looks to make some more hay in the backfield. Targets such as Taywan Taylor, Nicholas Norris, Jared Dangerfield and Antwane Grant are back and newcomers such as Nacarius Fant (okay okay okay, yes he's a sophomore, not a "technical" newcomer) and Will Bush provide nothing but depth to the driving force behind the Tops' offense.

And, while we can sit here all day and talk about how great this offense is - er, at least, how great we presume this offense is going to be - we can also talk about how bad the defense is. Or, I guess, how bad the defense was.

WKU was an eight-game winner last year - which is awesome, yes - but in reality, the Brohm Squad should have been a 10-game winner. I'll accept the MTSU loss; if you go into three overtimes, there really isn't much else to say. I'll even accept the Illinois loss, even though the Tops led by double-figures, it wasn't necessarily a dominating performance like UAB and FAU were.

The main point here is that the success of this team, either for the upcoming year or what we saw in seven and a half games last year (yeah, that Bahamas Bowl win was all luck), is predicated on how good or bad the defense is or will be. Everyone is just assuming this defense is going to be better. And, while I argue that, sure, it couldn't possibly be worse in 2015 with all those returning, there's no guarantee that it'll be better, either.

Wonderful Terry is back and he had three of my favorite plays of last year, as well as fellow all-name guys like Ge'Monee Brown and Prince Charles Iworah, as well as a host of guys who you heard of in passing last year. The defense is more experienced, no question about it, but what has really been proven?

I'm not saying it's going to be a trainwreck year for the Hilltoppers. I'm not even saying they won't win at least the CUSA East. I'm just saying that, with that behemoth of a schedule (two SEC squads, a road Big Ten game, La Tech, MTSU and Marshall, all at home), and with a defense whose last impression is blowing a 42-14 halftime lead to Central Michigan, let's wait a week (or three) before we crown WKU the Kings of the CUSA Hill.