Tops Defense Uses Bye Week to Improve Early Season Struggles

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – It’s no surprise that the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers’ winless month of September can be easily traced to the struggles of its defensive unit, which ranked as one of the nation’s best in 2019.

Through the first two games, the Hilltoppers’ defense has given up an average of over 32 points per game and a whopping 487 yards of total offense.

The concerns don’t stop there, though.

The Tops are struggling mightily in situations that they excelled at last year, such as 3rd Down defense.

In 2019, WKU ranked #7 in the country in getting opponents off the field on 3rd Down, but so far this fall, they are allowing teams to convert on third down at an alarming rate of nearly 50% (14-30).

WKU Defensive Coordinator Clayton White says his guys are using this early-season bye week to try and regain the confidence they exuded last fall.

“Right now, the focus is really just trying our best to get back to who we were,” Clayton explains, “It’s becoming mental for our guys… I think we need to have a good week of practice and I think we’ve had two of our best days (of practice)…”

Under normal circumstances, a college football bye week is a rather easy-going affair. But for the Hilltoppers, it’s been business as usual on The Hill.

Star Defensive End DeAngelo Malone says that WKU’s defensive unit has been practicing with full intensity this week and is diligently working to correct the mistakes they made on the gridiron in the first month of the season.

“We’ve been working every day to try and get better…” the reigning Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year states, “I say we (need to) just bring the juice back and play like we played last year: together.”