When Bobby Rainey left the Hill, the biggest question of the ensuing offseason was, naturally, who was going to replace him. Who is going to replace nearly 350 carries a season, nearly 12,000 yards a campaign and any touchdown that wasn't thrown in the air?
Then on September 15 in 2012, the Tops painted the Bluegrass red by defeating the mighty Wildcats at Commonwealth stadium with a stunning 32-31 overtime victory, lead by the emergence of Antonio Andrews who picked up 125 yards on 34 carriers and three touchdowns. Following that game, Andrews established himself as the Rainey replacement Topper fans all desired, and finished 2012 with 304 carries, 1684 yards and 11 touchdowns. In 2013, A.A. ran for more yards (1730) on less carries (267) for 16 scores.
Coming into last year, there wasn't as much question as to who was going to replace Andrews. Rather, the question was can he be as capable as Andrews. And then, a funny thing happened. Actually, two.
One, it turned out WKU didn't need that kind of running back anymore - one that got the ball every play and essentially was the offense. We saw the emergence of Doughty as the gunslinger we now know him to be, the high-tempo offense lead by Jeff Brohm took over and the team instantly went from a ground-and-pound offense to the air-it-out, no huddle style that broke all sorts of school records last year.
Two, Leon Allen proved to be a viable replacement. Actually, he proved to be a little more than viable. In fact, he proved to nearly pick up where Andrews left off. He ran for 1,542 yards on 272 carries (oh, and set the Conference USA single-game rushing record in the process somewhere in there), and if Allen didn't struggle with some nagging injuries down the home stretch, those numbers would have been even better.
WKU hosted their own media day yesterday, and Brandon Doughty had some high words of praise for the number guy in the backfield when asked.
"I've been quoted to say, and I gotten a little crap for it...but he's the most talented back, I think, overall of those three guys."
Jonathan Lintner of the Louisville Courier-Journal went so far as to specify who, specifically, was the one to give Doughty said "crap" for such a remark
That crap? It came from [Antonio] Andrews in a series of now-deleted Twitter postings following Doughty's statement to the Bowling Green Daily News in July that, "I truly think Leon Allen is the most talented running back that we've ever had here at Western Kentucky."
Oh. That's only a tad bit awkward.
But, in Doughty's defense, him saying how talented Allen is takes me back to a conversation I had with a former WKU blogger during the 2013 WKU/UK game at LP Field, where he said that he had heard from various sources, and thought himself, that Allen was the best running back on the team, he just didn't have the "football sense," at the time to overtake Andrews.
It worked out pretty well for Andrews, and if 2015 is anything like last year for Allen, it'll work pretty well for him, too.