Western Kentucky fans will get their first true glimpse of Bobby Petrino’s brand of football today, even if the product is still raw and taking shape.
The Hilltoppers take the field at Houchens-Smith Stadium at 2 p.m. hoping to impress upon their coaches they’ve figured it out while simultaneously putting on a show for those in the stands.
“I’m going to look at them all,” Petrino said. “I kind of do that all the time, as an individual, then as a group and then as a unit. So it’s going be fun to watch our guys.”
Petrino, in his first season with the program, has divided the team into first-teamers against the rest, meaning those wearing Red are penciled in to start games in the fall for WKU.
Among those include junior quarterback Brandon Doughty, a 6-foot-3, 210-pound junior from North Broward Prep in Davie, Fla. Doughty won the starting job this spring by rising above redshirt sophomores James Mauro and DaMarcus Smith – both of whom will play for the White Team today.
Joining Doughty on offense will be senior running back Antonio Andrews, linemen Ed Hazelett, Luis Polanco, Sean Conway and Cliff Burns, tight ends Mitchell Henry and Tyler Higbee and wide receivers Willie McNeal and Boe Brand.
“I would like to see the offense and the Red offense execute the passing game and be more precise, be right on time,” Petrino said. “Sometimes we get completions, but it’s not really want you want, because the ball’s late or the receiver’s too deep. What we’re looking for is the precision of the passing game.”
Defensively, the Red Team will be comprised of one of the better units in the Sun Belt Conference.
Even without senior safety Kiante Young (wrist), the first-team defense features safety Jonathan Dowling, defensive backs Arius Wright, Cam Thomas and Tyree Robinson and linebackers Xavius Boyd and Andrew Jackson.
“I feel like we are the best defense in the Sun Belt, it’s just that we have to come out and show it,” Thomas said. “Last year we had some ups and downs, but I feel like this spring, this year is the time that we gel together and now we’re talking to each other more and we know what each other are doing. Everybody’s in the right position to make plays.”
Dowling decreed Thursday that neither offense should be able to eclipse the 100-yard mark in the passing game today given the secondary’s success throughout spring practice.
The game will be played close to regulation, Petrino said, with a game clock set during the first half. The second half clock setting will be dictated by how many plays are run.
“We’ll have the coaches off the field for the first time, which is what I really want to see ... all the scrimmages that we had, we still had the coaches out there coaching on every play, working hard on every play,” Petrino said. “Now it’s time to get everybody off the field, except for me, because I’m going to be out there with the quarterbacks and see how they play, see how they line up, how they communicate without coaches telling them where to go, what to do. But we’ll make it as much game-like as we can.”
Today’s event is free to the public.
A pep rally before the game is to begin at 1 p.m. on the campus’ South Lawn and fans can sign up to win a fan experience package to the game against Kentucky on Aug. 31 in Nashville.
The first 1,000 students who arrive today will be given a WKU football t-shirt.
For tailgating parking information, visit bgdailynews.com.