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Opponent Breakdown: Western Kentucky Defense

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Louisville’s passing offense has a chance to take a step forward.

NCAA Football: Eastern Kentucky at Louisville Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

New Western Kentucky coach Tyson Helton decided that he doesn’t like depth charts so every position on the team’s depth chart just has all of their players in number order. Tyson Helton also lost his head coaching debut to a FCS school that went 6-5 last year. The depth chart thing is dumb and the idea that players don’t understand roles and won’t practice hard if you label them as backups is dumber. Instead, the coach and his staff should make sure that backups understand their role and know that they will be relied on throughout the game as rotation guys, packaged players, or the guy that they will rely on if they have an injury. Yes I am super annoyed about this whole thing.

As I don’t know who all of the starters are for Western’s defense, I’ll try to highlight the few players I’ve seen make plays or get named by the commentators in their games. The best player on the defense is one of those guys in DeAngelo Malone. At defensive end, he has shown a great ability to bet blocks in the run game to make plays in the backfield. Malone has also done well as a pass rusher getting around the edge and also using moves to work inside. Malone is on the right side of the line a lot from what I’ve seen, so we should see a fun battle with Mekhi Becton.

Kyle Bailey leads the Hilltoppers in tackles and he appears to be the starter at linebacker alongside former Card, Malik Staples. Bailey being the starter is a little surprising because Western got a waiver for Georgia transfer Jaden Hunter to play right away. Hunter only has two tackles on the season but one would assume that a talented player like him would see the field more at some point. No linebacker on the roster has been credited with a tackle for loss at this point so Louisville could make some big plays in the running game.

Western’s corners were dominated by Central Arkansas’ receivers two weeks ago. I’m not exaggerating when I say that, either. UCA threw for four touchdowns and three of them were to a receiver beating a corner in man coverage. They also completed 21 total passes for over 400 yards and hit on nearly 75% of their throws. Western also only broke up one pass. UCA receivers put on a show against these outside corners and Louisville has to be able to do the same.

Devon Key returns at safety for the Hilltoppers and will need his size and tackling ability in run support. Key had a very good game against Louisville last year with a tackle for loss and two pass breakups. Key is a big safety at 210 pounds and should be the extra guy that we see in the box when WKU looks to stop the run. Louisville should look to exploit him in pass coverage as Western plays a lot of man coverage.