--By Mike Gilpatrick
--Photo by Jared Anderson
A week after defeating Indiana State in a rain-soaked game, the Louisville Cardinals football team shifts gears; hosting Conference-USA opponent Western Kentucky. The game will be at 7:30pm at Cardinal Stadium. It will also be on a regional sports network.
When the game was announced in October of 2016, the Hilltoppers were on the tail-end of one of their best stretches- they had won the Conference-USA championship two years in a row. Many said that facing UofL would solidify WKU as a legitimate football power in the state of Kentucky.
2016 was the last year that head coach Jeff Brohm was in Bowling Green. He left the program for Purdue. Since then, the Toppers haven’t been the same. While they’re still the third-best football program in Kentucky; they finished 6-7 in 2017, and are off to 0-2 so far in 2018.
One of WKU’s losses were to be expected- they lost to No. 6 Wisconsin 34-3 in Week one. The second loss surprised everyone. The Toppers lost 31-28 against Maine, at Houchens Industries LT Smith Stadium; after leading 21-0 after the first quarter.
The loss to Maine was supposed to be an easy win for Mike Sanford and Co. The Black Bears play in the Colonial Athletic Association, in the FCS, and went 4-6 last season. They finished seventh in the CAA. WKU also allowed six sacks to Maine.
2018 is just two games in. Some teams need time to find their stride. WKU is still searching. They score 15.5 points per game, and allow 32.5. Their rushing attack is a little lacking; only at 2.55 yards per carry.
No rusher has more than 40 yards. QB Drew Eckels has the most attempts; scrambling 20 times for just seven yards. They do have an intriguing back in freshman Garland LaFrance. LaFrance leads the team in yards, is the No. 2 receiver, and has one TD through the air.
Eckels, the Senior, was responsible for three of WKU’s four TDs. He is a game-time decision after being hit hard on the last offensive play against Maine. If he doesn’t start, then redshirt junior Steven Duncan or redshirt freshman Davis Shanley will more than likely suit up.
Regardless of who is under center, WKU’s offensive line needs to hold up if it’s to make any sort of game against Louisville.
Keep up with River City Cards for the keys to the game, dropping tomorrow