Position by Postion: UK vs. WKU


Sophomore Mike Hartline has answered his critics, at least for one week, winning Southeastern Conference Offensive Player of the Week after his performance in the Middle Tennessee State game. The most important stat for Hartline however, is zero interceptions. Western Kentucky has K.J. Black, a mobile quarterback that runs the spread offense, as well as David Wolke, who has thrown for three touchdowns. The emerging and confident Hartline gives the nod to UK.

Advantage: UK

Running backs

Will this be the week the Cats break out? The Cats have the potential for a big rushing attack with the self-proclaimed “Fantastic Four” of Derrick Locke, Tony Dixon, Alfonso Smith and Moncell Allen. They’re averaging a combined 130 yards, but look for an impressive performance. The Hilltoppers rely much more on their passing, with no running back averaging more than 33 yards per game. The lack of a potential rushing attack makes this decision easy.

Advantage: UK

Wide Receivers

The ‘Toppers and Cats both have similarities in the receiving corps, a lack of inexperience. Only one of WKU’s top five receivers is a senior, Jessie Quinn.  However, there is one difference between the two teams: Dicky Lyons Jr. He is coming off a career-high 12 catches against Middle Tennessee State and is back to his familiar role in the slot, where he has excelled the past two years. With the chemistry boiling between Hartline and Lyons Jr., the Cats passing game could be something to watch for.

Advantage: UK

Offensive Line

Garry Williams returns to the line after missing the last two games with an injured knee. Billy Joe Murphy, who filled in for Williams, has made such an impression on the coaches he could move to the right side of the line and get reps there.  The O-line has done a decent job at protecting the quarterbacks, but still needs to work on blocking for the rushing game. On the other hand, WKU’s O-line has been steady against weaker competition, and UK’s defense could potentially be the best they see all year.

Advantage: UK

Defensive Line

This is UK’s speciality, and a category the Cats may not lose all year. Despite losing Ricky Lumpkin this week, the Cats still have Jeremy Jarmon, Corey Peters and Myron Pryor. The spread offense could keep the O-line from getting pressure, but this pick is still easy.

Advantage: UK


The Cats will be without arguably their best linebacker this season in Micah Johnson. However, Braxton Kelley will be returning to his familiar role as an inside linebacker and Mike Schwindel looked comfortable filling in at weakside linebacker against Middle Tennessee State. The Hilltoppers send out a strong group in Blake Boyd, Alonzo Higgins, Ben Sowders and Darvis McBride, however Kelley’s play at inside linebacker will help the whole group.

Advantage: UK


If the defensive line isn’t UK’s strong point, people look at their defensive backs. Trevard Lindley has the ability to cover half the field and the emergence of David Jones on the other side has made opposing quarterbacks lose any easy targets, as well as the surfacing of Robbie McAtee. Marcus McClinton and Ashton Cobb both have the ability to come up from the safety position and help stop the run.

Advantage: UK

Special Teams

Will UK have a reliable kicker? Lones Seiber has struggled this year going 5-for-10 field goals this year. Freshman Ryan Tydlacka will handle field goals, while Seiber stays on extra points, head coach Rich Brooks said Friday. WKU’s tandem of Tanner Siewert and Zac Minturn are a combined 6-for-7 this year. Until the Cats can find consistency in the kicking game, outside of Tim Masthay, they will struggle to put points on the board.

Advantage: WKU


The Cats should beat Western Kentucky, who are only in their second year of the Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly D-IAA). They have been blown-out by fellow Southeastern Conference member and eight-ranked Alabama, as well as Indiana. Hartline will continue to grow on his confidence and continue to click with Lyons Jr., who could have another big game. Look for the running game to improve and the defense to finally slow down a spread offense. The Cats will head into Alabama undefeated.

Advantage: UK