Morgan faces stiff test Saturday at FBS Western Kentucky

September 20, 2013 | WNST Staff

MSU (0-3, 0-0 MEAC) at Western Kentucky (1-2, 0-1 Sun Belt)
Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013 – 6 p.m. CT
Williams Stadium (22,113)
Bowling Green, Ky.

The Bears (0-3) will travel to take on Sun Belt conference member Western Kentucky on Saturday (Sept. 21) in Bowling Green (Ky.) for the Hilltopper’s home-opener. The game will mark the Bears fourth straight road test. The Hilltoppers are led by head coach Bobby Petrino, who is in his first season at the helm for the Hilltoppers. WKU (1-2, 0-1) will enter the contest coming off of a tough loss in the final two minutes against South Alabama, 31-24, in the conference opener for both teams. Morgan State will look to rebound from a 38-10 road loss against Liberty. Donald Hill-Eley, ranked third among winning coaches at MSU, enters his 12th year as head coach of the Bears.  Game time at Houchens Industries/L.T. Smith Stadium is scheduled for 6 p.m. CT and will be available to watch through ESPN3 online and through mobile devices.

• Morgan State and Western Kentucky will meet for the first time in history.

• Western Kentucky head coach Bobby Petrino enters his first year guiding the Hilltoppers and currently holds a 1-3 record, and a 76-28 career record. He previously was the head coach at Louisville and Arkansas.
• WKU was selected to finish second place in the Big South Conference, voted on by Big South head coaches and media panel.
• WKU QB Brandon Doughty was 27 of 47 for 282 yards and three touchdowns against South Alabama but also was intercepted three times, giving him eight in the past two games.
• Western Kentucky has scored on its opening possession in every game this season, opening this one with a five-play, 79-yard march capped by Doughty’s 16-yard touchdown pass to sophomore tight end Tyler Higbee, his second career scoring reception.
• WKU freshman WR Nicholas Norris caught two touchdown passes … he has 10 rec. for 129 yards with 3 TDs this season.
• WKU senior All-American RB Antonio Andrews, who led the NCAA in all-purpose yards (3,161 yards) last season, finished the South Alabama game with 122 yards on 15 carries … it marked his 12th 100-yard effort in the past 14 games … he leads the Hilltoppers ground game by averaging a whopping 6.9 yards per carry (48 att./332 yds).

• MSU will enter the 2013 season with a number of veterans … the Bears’ roster includes 12 seniors and 15 juniors.
• The Bears return its top receiver from last season in Andrew King … King, a Columbia (Md.) product, had 25 catches for 334 yards (13.4) and scored a pair of touchdowns as a true sophomore.
• The Bears backfield lost All-MEAC running back Travis “Juice” Davidson to graduation, however the backfield is loaded with talented young players like Lamont Brown III, Herb Walker Jr., Tracy Martin and Orlando Johnson who will compete for the starting RB spot.
• The returning quarterback duo of Seth Higgins and Robert Council combined for 1,560 passing yards (140-of-301) and five touchdowns  in 2012.
•  Joe Rankin returns as a shutdown cornerback for the Bears and finished with 46 tackles and lead the MEAC with five picks in 2012.
•  NT Demarco Bisbee leads a defensive line unit that returns 10 lettermen from last season … Bisbee posted 41 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss and
3.5 sacks in 2012.
•  LB Christopher Robinson was among the league leaders with 13.5 tackles for loss (No. 4), to go along with 40 tackles and 8.5 sacks.
•  Chris Flowers helped lead the Bears to a No. 1 ranking in the MEAC in kickoff return avearge (23.0 avg) and his 27.8 kick return average ranked No. 8 in the FCS last season.
•  The Bears added four new coaches to the 2013 staff … the new coaches are: Jerry Holmes (DC), Greg Gregory (OC), LeAndre Creamer (DB) and Marcus Gladden (OL).

NON-CONFERENCE GRADE … The Bears are 14-23 (.378) overall in non-conference play under Donald Hill-Eley. The Bears will open the 2013 campaign with four consecutive road games against non-conference opponents, starting with Army (8/30), followed by trips to Robert Morris (9/7), Liberty (9/14) and Western Kentucky (9/21).

MOSES ENTERS … Redshirt-freshman Moses Skillon had a productive start to his collegiate career. Skillon entered the ballgame at Robert Morris and really provided a spark to an offensive unit that had trouble getting into any sort of rhythm. The 6-4, 210 pound Liberty City (Fla.) product completed 9-of-18 passes for 207 yards and threw a pair of touchdowns to Andrew King. Skillon recorded his first start last week at Liberty and completed 3 of 12 passes for 28 yards, and finished with a team-high 90 yards on the ground.

FINISHING TOUCHES … Morgan State has been virtually automatic this season when it comes to scoring in the red zone. Through the first three games, the Bears have scored 5-of-6 (83%) times inside its opponent’s 20 yardline. MSU ranks No. 4 in the MEAC in red zone scoring.

GETTING DEFENSIVE … The Morgan State defense has five players with at least 10 tackles so far this season.
• Junior linebacker Cody Acker leads the way with 32 stops (T-2nd in MEAC), including a season-high 12 tackles at Liberty (Sept. 14).
• The next highest is senior Darien Irby who has posted 20 tackles from his starting strong safety position.