After a lackluster win in their opening game, the Illini are turning their attention to Week 2 as the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers come to town. This week Chad Bishop from HilltoppersBeat joins us to answer our questions.
1. Western Kentucky began the Jeff Brohm era with an offensive explosion against Bowling Green. What are your expectations for the rest of the year?
My expectations are for them to put up the same types of numbers – and those have been my expectations since spring. This team has a senior quarterback, is six-deep at wide receiver, has two proven tight ends, a talented running back and three starters back on the offensive front. There's really no excuse for them to not perform at that level if everyone stays healthy.
2. Brandon Doughty put up a video game stat line last week as he went 46/56 for 569 yards and 6 TDs. Is this a sign of things to come for the senior QB, or was Bowling Green just that bad?
I think it's a sign of things to come – just probably not to that extreme. Doughty began to play well over the final four games of 2013 and took that confidence into the offseason. He's had a whole winter, spring, summer and fall to master this offense and has a great relationship with Jeff Brohm. Plus, he's surounded by stellar weapons that make it all go. Was the Bowling Green defense that bad or was Doughty that good? The answer likely lies somewhere in the middle.
3. What kind of offense do the Hilltoppers run? Who are the playmakers on that side of the ball?
It's a multiple, balanced system that is wide open. Many thought when Bobby Petrino took over in 2013 that the Tops would be pass-happy, but that's not necessarily the case. Those guys will take whatever the defense gives. They'll go shotgun, pistol, five-wide, I-formation, single back – all sorts of stuff to confuse the defense. Add all that to a high-tempo which wasn't part of the package last year and appears to be very tough to defend.
The playmakers are plenty – Doughty, running back Leon Allen, tight ends Mitchell Henry and Tyler Higbee and a sextet of receivers – Willie McNeal, Joel German, Taywan Taylor, Nicholas Norris, Jared Dangerfield and Antwane Grant.
4. Are there any players on the defensive side that Illini fans should look for?
Cam Thomas, a senior cornerback (No. 19) who is an NFL prospect – some sites have him projected as a third-round draft pick.
5. What’s your opinion of Illinois heading into the game? Which players on our side do you view as the biggest threat?
Admittedly, I watched about all of the Youngstown State game Saturday on television. I was a bit disappointed in the play of Illinois. Maybe it was the opponent or first-game cobwebs, but I tuned in expecting to see a little more gusto. Regardless, I was impressed by Wes Lunt's control of the offense and I would guess he'll have that offense moving in no time. Jeff Brohm said Monday he is very concerned about how to stop Josh Ferguson.
6. What’s your prediction for this first ever meeting between the two schools?
As is my tradition, my pick doesn't come out until the day of the game in the Daily News. So fans will either have to pick up a copy or give me a follow on Twitter (@MrChadBishop) – I'll post it there Saturday morning.
Thanks again to Chad for taking the time to answer our questions!