Three Matchups to Watch: Western Kentucky Hilltoppers


Ziyi Liu

Trent Sherfield (10) is interfered with during Vanderbilt’s 14-12 loss against the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers September 3, 2015 at Vanderbilt Stadium Nashville, TN. Photo by Ziyi Liu.

Alyssa Muir

The Commodores dropped their fifth consecutive game last weekend in a 34-27 loss at South Carolina. This weekend, they return home to face Western Kentucky in hopes of finally getting back in the win column.

The Hilltoppers come into Nashville carrying a 5-3 record. Vanderbilt needs to win three of their next four games to become bowl eligible, and Western Kentucky is their only non-conference opponent during this stretch.

Here are three match-ups to keep an eye on during this week’s game.

QB Kyle Shurmur vs. Western Kentucky pass defense

Shurmur is pretty much the only reason that the Commodores only lost by one touchdown to the Gamecocks last weekend. The junior passed for a season-high 333 yards, completed 27 of 49 pass attempts, and recorded four touchdown passes. Besides a rough game against Alabama, Shurmur has played extremely well in every other game and has developed into the most consistent player on the team. He is fifth in total passing yards among SEC quarterbacks

Shurmur will be up against a stingy Hilltoppers pass defense that has only allowed five touchdowns through the air in the entire season. However, they arguably have not faced a quarterback as talented as Shurmur to this point.

WR Kalija Lipscomb vs. DB DeAndre Farris

Lipscomb had his best game of the season against South Carolina last weekend. The sophomore caught seven passes for 128 yards and a touchdown. His previous season high was 58 yards reception yards.

Farris has done an excellent job as a part of the Hilltoppers defense this season. He has broken up 10 passes and recorded one interception. The junior has also made 28 tackles so far.

S LaDarius Wiley vs. Western Kentucky offense

The senior safety has been very productive all season. He has recorded 67 total tackles, one interception, and four pass break-ups. Most impressively, he ranks fourth in total tackles in the SEC.

The Hilltoppers are averaging just under 400 yards per game on offense. In comparison, the Commodores are averaging 319 yards per game. Western Kentucky is led by quarterback Mike White, who has thrown for 2328 yards this season.

Look for Wiley to be all over the field and helping to slow down the Hilltoppers offense.