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Earlier this week we linked to Jared’s half of a Q&A exchange with the marvelous Western Kentucky blog The Towel Rack. Below you can find The Towel Rack’s response to Jared’s questions. Thank you as always to the fine folks at The Towel Rack for being great to work with. Be sure to check out their content leading up to Friday’s game. I particularly enjoy their position grade articles which are always packed with great info.
Jared Kalmus – Western Kentucky has been on fire since losing to UTSA as they’ve won their last seven games by an average margin of 26 points. What are the primary factors that have allowed WKU to finally start racking up wins?
Jared Rosdeutscher – The defense has stepped up big time. They were allowing a ton of yards and points but they’ve finally clicked and have started making some big plays. They are currently number two in the country with 19 interceptions so they’ve been able to help contain most opposing offenses.
On offense, Bailey Zappe has continued to thrive and has that special connection with wide receiver Jerreth Sterns. But it’s not just those two, running backs Noah Whittington, Kye Robichaux, and Jakari Moses have all been sharing snaps in the backfield and added a more lethal run game than they previously had as well.
JK – The defense has greatly improved throughout the season under first year coordinator Maurice Crum. What has been the key to WKU’s turnaround on that side of the ball?
JR – They’ve seemed to have gained confidence in who they are and what their roles are. DeAngelo Malone and Juwan Jones are studs and continue to disrupt the backfield and the secondary as a whole has been holding their own more-so than in the earlier part of the season and have been able to get a lot of interceptions.
JK – Marshall was giving WKU a serious scare until Grant Wells left the game with an injury. What was the Herd able to do on defense to slow down WKU’s air raid in the first half of last week’s game?
JR – Zappe definitely didn’t look like himself and seemed out of rhythm with his receivers in the first half. Marshall was able to establish some momentum in the first half but once Wells went down, it swung the Hilltoppers’ way in the second half that was all they needed to get going and start lighting up the scoreboard. Not sure if the offense had a lot of turkey on Thanksgiving and/or went shopping on Black Friday but they definitely looked sluggish in the first half.
JK – How do the Hilltoppers look from an injury standpoint heading into this game?
JR – Most of the key players will be available. Star tight end Joshua Simon has been out most of the season with an ankle injury but other than him everyone should be good to go.
JK – What’s your biggest concern for WKU ahead of this week’s matchup?
JR – The home environment that the Roadrunners will likely have. The Tops have played in a tough road environment once this season at Michigan State so they know how to function in a loud and huge crowd but I’m sure the noise will cause some false starts and miscues on offense and defense at some point.
JK – And lastly, how do you see this game playing out? What’s your prediction for the final score?
JR – This one is so tough for me to think about. I still believe WKU should’ve won the first game in October but that interception at the goal line sealed the win for UTSA. This time around, though, I believe that WKU has more momentum and has gotten better defensively which was a major weakness in the first game for them. With WKU rolling at full steam and UTSA falling off here at the end of the season I have to pick the Tops winning 42-38.
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