Jeff Brohm made his coaching debut at WKU a night to remember.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Western Kentucky football coach Jeff Brohm invited the CBS Sports Network TV cameras into the Hilltoppers' locker room prior to WKU's opener against Bowling Green Friday night. There was nothing complex about Brohm's message to the players.
“In a real fight, we hit first,” Brohm told his guys. “We hit first. Then we hit again and we hit again …”
Message delivered. Again. And again. And again. If this would have been a real fight, it would have been stopped in the third quarter.
Too bad they didn't televise the post-game locker room celebration, too, because in his first game as a head coach Brohm looked like a guy ready to show everything he learned from Howard Schnellenberger, Bobby Petrino, Bill Walsh, Steve Mariucci and every other high-octane coach on his resume.
In a game where they were listed in Las Vegas as a 7 ½-point underdog, the Hilltoppers marched over, around, between and through the Falcons for a jarring 59-31 victory. Brohm howled when his players dumped a bucket of ice water on him in the final minute.
That's more points than Bowling Green allowed in any game while winning 10 of 14 games last season. (The season high a year ago was 42 against Indiana. Nobody else scored more than 30 – and that's a list that includes Pittsburgh. It's the most points Bowling Green has allowed since Michigan scored 62 in 2010.)
This Bowling Green team was predicted to win the Mid-American Conference by several pre-season magazines. WKU hung 40 first downs on the Falcons while running 97 offensive plays.
Western had seven possessions in the first half. The Hilltoppers translated that into four touchdowns, a field goal, a missed field goal and a single punt. All four of their touchdowns drives required at least six plays, but none required more than 3:20.
Quarterback Brandon Doughty started the game like a guy who wanted to play his way into the Heisman Trophy race, completing 27 of 32 passes for 359 yards and three touchdowns.
And Doughty never stopped. He finished with a WKU-record setting performance, completing 46 of 56 passes for 569 yards and six touchdowns. The completions, yards and TDs were WKU records. No wonder WKU president Dr. Gary Ransdell hugged Doughty on the sidelines in the final three minutes.
“We worked all week on scoring in the red zone,” Doughty told CBS Sports after the game. “That was a big emphasis for us …
“Coach Brohm is very easy to play for. He cares about his players all the time. He does a really good job Xs and Os, understands where we're going to go with the ball every single moment of the game. I'm really honored and proud to be a player for him."
His favorite receiver?
Taywan Taylor, a product of Pleasure Ridge Park High School, caught 12 passes for 185 yards and a touchdown. Central High product Ace Wales carried eight times for 27 yards and WKU's final touchdown. Leon Allen led the Hilltoppers' running game with 28 carries for 93 yards and a touchdown.
“Brandon Doughty lit it up,” said CBS Sports analyst Houston Nutt.
Brohm, who took over in January after serving as Petrino's offensive coordinator last season, did not disagree.
“He was efficient,” Brohm said. “He took what they gave him. He got the ball out on the perimeter. He got completions. That's the most important thing.”
WKU plays Illinois in Champaign at noon next Saturday in a game that will be televised on the Big Ten Network. Illinois opens its season at noon Saturday against Youngstown State, a game that will also be televised by the Big Ten Network.