CRAWFORD | WKU's Doughty seeks to improve on 'astronomical numbe - WDRB 41 Louisville News

CRAWFORD | WKU's Doughty seeks to improve on 'astronomical numbers'

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Brandon Doughty is looking to improve on his 49 TD season a year ago. (AP photo) Brandon Doughty is looking to improve on his 49 TD season a year ago. (AP photo)
WKU coach Jeff Brohm and QB Brandon Doughty share a laugh during a visit to WDRB in June. (WDRB photo by Eric Crawford) WKU coach Jeff Brohm and QB Brandon Doughty share a laugh during a visit to WDRB in June. (WDRB photo by Eric Crawford)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — Western Kentucky University football coach Jeff Brohm has one firm belief about quarterbacks — what they’re able do after a play breaks down can separate the good from the great.

WKU sixth-year senior quarterback Brandon Doughty knows a little something about dealing with the unexpected. And he knows even more about being the unexpected force that others have to deal with.

Before last season, Brohm drilled Doughty time and again on broken plays, how to move in the pocket, extend plays, keep his eyes up, find receivers while eluding rushers. He’s comfortable just about anywhere — even in front of the weather map on WDRB’s top-rated morning news show.

“We work as much as anywhere I’ve been at broken plays,” Brohm said. “When the play happens like it’s on the board, he’s going to execute, that’s not a problem. But almost 50 percent of the game is things that don’t happen exactly the way you draw it up, so we constantly work on those plays. He’s much more natural at it now, and it helped him become a dramatically better player last year.”

Dramatically might be an understatement. Doughty threw for 922 yards, 13 touchdowns and only two interceptions — in the final two games of the season.

You’d have to have been hiding under a rock not to know that Doughty threw for 49 touchdowns and 4,830 yards. He threw for 24 touchdowns, without an interception, in WKU’s home games last season. He threw for a TD at home in every 8.8 pass attempts.

“Really astronomical numbers,” Brohm said. 

And had that been it for Doughty, it would’ve been a fantastic finish. But the NCAA granted him one more year, making up for two he lost because of injury, and that has meant for some heady times for the Hilltoppers.

They enter tonight’s game at Vanderbilt a 2 1/2-point favorite. And they are once again expected to be one of the most dangerous offensive teams in the country.

Things on the Hill have definitely changed, and Doughty has noticed.

“It’s been such a transformation from the first time I stepped on campus to now,” he said. “When I first got here we were a basketball state, basketball school to the end. Now we’re turning into a football school. I get ‘Hey Doughty Heisman!” from people on campus, and stuff like that. It’s kind of funny, kind of cool. You can see the support there not just from students but from the area. It’s really grown.”

Brohm has been urging Doughty to try to grow along with it — both physically and mentally.

First, coaches set out a plan for Doughty to add some muscle in the offseason. Second, he’s been doing some agility drills to try to improve his quickness.

“This year, there are some more subtle things he can work on,” Brohm said. “We wanted to make sure that for his future and his durability that we added a little muscle to him, a little bit of weight, where he can look the part, so to speak, and we thought that was important. With him, he’s an accurate passer and makes good decisions. He’s an athlete, but probably he’s not a tremendous runner or super fast, so we want to make sure that he continues to find ways to make plays outside the pocket, able to buy time when something isn’t open and locate receivers on the run and every now and then try to run for a few yards. Pocket movement, pocket presence is the No. 1 thing we work on with him.”

Doughty said he feels stronger, now at 210 pounds on his 6-3 frame. In July, he went to the Manning Passing Academy, and said he got valuable feedback from there.

“It’s been a crazy summer now,” Doughty said. “It’s been pretty nuts, flying to Manning camp and doing all that and learning from those guys. But getting back into it I’ve just wanted to work on getting bigger and stronger and faster. I know I’m an old dog, but I’m going to try to get a little faster now.”

He also has done something you might not expect. In a single season, Doughty rewrote the WKU passing record book. But he spent more time this summer working with the WKU running game than the passing attack.

He said he wants a better understanding of WKU’s passing schemes, so he can get into them better.

“I’ve been working really hard getting into the run game, learning the blocking schemes and our terminology, so I can get us into the best play possible,” Doughty said. “We run 85-90 plays. In my opinion, I don’t want to dirt five to seven of them for bad looks. So I’m trying to meet with coach about getting into the schemes and stuff so I can get us into some better positions.”

That’s exactly the kind of maturity Brohm was hoping for from Doughty when he found out he’d have his record-breaking quarterback for one more season.

Still, there’s another hurdle. The hurdle of great expectations. Everybody expects big things from Doughty.

Paul Meyerberg of USA Today may have put it best when he wrote: “He’s going to be fantastic. He’s going to put up Tommy Chang, Colt Brennan, video-game type numbers this season.”

No pressure, right? Check out this list: Kirk Herbstreit of ESPN gave him a “Herbie Award” for Best-Kept Secret in college football; Bleacher Report called him the top Heisman Trophy candidate from a non-Power 5 school; NFL.com called him the top contender for college football’s triple crown; The Sporting News listed him among the Top 25 Quarterbacks for 2015 and Pat Forde of Yahoo! ranked him one of the most intriguing quarterbacks of the season.

“Last year he was able to perform with that high level when there were no expectations,” Brohm said. “We’ve stressed this year that now there are expectations, and to help him mature and grow, he’s going to have to do all the interviews, talk to people, answer questions that he really doesn’t like doing, but now people know about him and they expect him to do certain things and he’s got to learn to handle that to help his future. So I think all this stuff is good for him, even though if you asked him he wouldn’t want to do it, I think it’s going to help him mature and be an even better quarterback.”

No plan, however, is perfect. In the team’s first major scrimmage this fall, Doughty came out flat, and finished dissatisfied.

“I was just trying to do too much,” he said. “I was trying to force the ball and just kind of getting out of my game a little bit. I toned down on it, and I think I have played pretty well since that day. It was kind of a reality check, which I needed that. It was a little bit of a reality check, that I’m not superman and I do make mistakes, but I rebounded pretty well I think. I’m just ready to take on this Vandy train.”

At long last, the wait is over tonight. WKU’s “old dog” quarterback is ready for the new season.

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