Keeping Score

5 to Watch: Western Kentucky features plenty of talent, experience

By PATRICK MAGEE

pmagee@sunherald.com

Twitter: @Patrick_Magee

MICHAEL NOBLE JR./ASSOCIATED PRESS 
 Western Kentucky wide receiver Antwane Grant (3) celebrates his touchdown with wide receiver Jared Dangerfield (21) on Friday at L.T. Smith Stadium in Bowling Green, Ky.
MICHAEL NOBLE JR./ASSOCIATED PRESS Western Kentucky wide receiver Antwane Grant (3) celebrates his touchdown with wide receiver Jared Dangerfield (21) on Friday at L.T. Smith Stadium in Bowling Green, Ky. AP

Redshirt senior quarterback Brandon Doughty is the man who makes Western Kentucky go on offense, but the Hilltoppers offer more than just a star quarterback.

Doughty is surrounded by several playmakers on offense and an improved defense that has helped the team go from 8-5 last season to 10-2 this year.

WKU hosts Southern Miss at 11 a.m. on Saturday in Bowling Green, Ky., in the Conference USA title game.

Here are five Hilltoppers to keep an eye on:

1. Tight end Tyler Higbee: The 6-foot-6, 250-pound redshirt senior is likely the best pass-catching tight end that SUSM has faced all season. He battled back from injury last week to lead the team with six catches for 92 yards and a touchdown in the 49-28 win over Marshall. When he's on the field, WKU is a better offense.

2. Linebacker Nick Holt: WKU has a solid linebacking corps and the 6-foot-1, 230-pound senior is the leader of the group. He is the C-USA player of the Week after picking off two passes and forcing a fumble Friday. He is the son of the WKU defensive coordinator, who goes by the same name.

3. Running back Anthony Wales: After star running back Leon Allen went down with a season-ending injury in the second game, WKU had to have someone replace that production. The 5-foot-10, 195-pound Wales has proven to be that man with with 129 carries for 936 yards and seven touchdowns.

4. Receiver Taywan Taylor: The junior has again been the big-play threat for the Hilltoppers with 71 catches for 1,198 yards. Doughty does a good job of spreading the ball around, but Taylor is the best deep target.

5. Linebacker T.J. McCollum: The redshirt sophomore transferred from UAB after that program was shut down for a while after the 2014 season. McCollum has been one of the most successful former Blazers this season. The 6-foot-3, 230-pound linebacker leads WKU with 94 tackles and 10.5 tackles for lost yardage.

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