For fans of Western Kentucky, every game this season that doesn't end 70-14 is a double edge sword. On one side, you have the continuance of a dominant offense in all aspects - Brandon Doughty continues to play at a Heisman level, nine different receivers caught a pass and we saw the emergence of Anthony "Ace" Wales who rushed for 192 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries.
On the other side, you have a defense that allowed 28 points - 14 of which came in the final 15 minutes - and allowed 431 total yards of offense and was completely taken apart by a quarterback making his first start in DaMarcus Smith, who tossed for 228 yards on 17-of-35 passing for four touchdowns (and an interception) and ran for 122 yards on 16 rushes.
I'm happy we won. But coach Holt still gave up 400+ yards to a winless team. #WKU— Drew Bennett (@dotbennett) October 16, 2015
Exactly. Dot Bennett is not happy with Coach Holt, and a lot of Tops fans probably aren't.
I don't mean any of that negatively towards Smith. In fact, quite the opposite. I was incredibly impressed with his play (he was on WKU's roster pre-Doughty explosion, so probably was playing with a chip on his shoulder), and as several North Texas fans who I talked with leading into the week said about his play last week as well, played with the most heart on the field. It was fun to watch.
What wasn't fun to watch (from Big Red colored glasses) was the final play of the half, when Darvin Kidsy was left wide. ass. open. in the end zone, and had just enough room to put both feet in bounds for the touchdown. It wasn't the Hilltoppers defense's finest moment.
Defensive woes aside, the worst news of the night for the Hilltoppers came when Tyler Higbee exited the game after just one catch, on a play that seemed very similar to the play that saw Leon Allen be sidelined for the year against Louisiana Tech in week two. While it wasn't nearly as gruesome, it was bad enough for Higbee to not return to the game, and warrant this kind of reaction from Jeff Brohm and the rest of the Toppers after the game.
Jeff Brohm "not optimistic" about Tyler Higbee's injury. Players indicated as much on the sideline.— Zach Greenwell (@zach_greenwell) October 16, 2015
Brohm said not optimistic. My read of the mood is it's bad. https://t.co/mp2sw8Qp4U— Zach Greenwell (@zach_greenwell) October 16, 2015
Yeeeeeah that isn't good.
All in all, it was a pretty typical game for both sides - a big win for the Tops and another lopsided loss for North Texas. But, I was thoroughly impressed with UNT, and think Smith is the answer at quarterback.
Just as Smith bursted on to the scene for the Mean Green, Wales had himself a game that we may look back at and say "that was the beginning" of something special - much like the 2012 victory against Kentucky was for Antonio Andrews (you know, just some fella playing on Sunday's now).
For North Texas, there's a lot of good to look at in preparation for Marshall next week which won't be an easy task, but will again be an area in which there's room to grow.
For the Tops...well...
I'm not going to be the one to crush someone's dream. Keep that dream, big guy (but it won't happen).
P.s: Not to toot MY own horn, but since WKU is bowl eligible after tonight's win, this tweet is worth a hundred, nay, a thousand words.
I'm not saying I'm the reason for #WKU's success, I'm just saying WKU has been bowl eligible every year since I've started following them— Fletcher Keel (@FletchTopper) October 16, 2015