BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (AP) - Western Kentucky quarterback Brandon Doughty had an impressive debut.
The junior signal-caller was effective running coach Bobby Petrino's offense against Kentucky and wants to keep the Hilltoppers rolling on Saturday at Tennessee. Doughty understands that beating a second consecutive Southeastern Conference opponent will be a challenge. He's watching a lot of videotape and listening intently to Petrino, who beat the Volunteers as Arkansas' coach.
Saturday's 35-26 victory over Kentucky in Nashville, Tenn., showed that Doughty is a promising pupil. Questions about how quickly the Sun Belt Conference team could execute Petrino's spread offense were answered with 487 yards against the Wildcats in a game that WKU never trailed.
Doughty had 271 yards passing and a touchdown in his first start in two years and looks to continue progressing in Knoxville.
He has immersed himself in the film sessions.
"I've actually gotten into it a lot. They do a lot of things well," Doughty said. "They're a really, really good-coached team, they fly to the ball and they have a really good front seven. The corners are getting more and more experience as the days go on.
"I'm excited to see how we respond and I'll dip into even more this week."
Doughty has reason to be confident after breaking WKU's FBS record for single-game completions with 27 on 34 attempts to eight receivers. He led the Hilltoppers' game-opening 75-yard scoring drive by completing his first five passes for 45.
It was Doughty's first start since tearing his right anterior cruciate ligament in September 2011 and being third string last season. He believes he wouldn't have succeeded without his offensive line, which allowed just one sack.
"Those guys out there are making plays for me and making me look good," Doughty said. "They gave me a lot of time. The confidence in me is building, but we still have to work every single day at it and grind. It's a true grind."
Doughty isn't the only one getting familiar with Tennessee.
Petrino said his team has benn brushing up on Tennessee (1-0), a school the Hilltoppers have been eyeing for a while.
The last meeting between WKU and Tennessee was the Volunteers' 2009 season opener under then-coach Lane Kiffin. After a scoreless first quarter, UT scored 28 points in the second and cruised to a 63-7 win.
The Hilltoppers' homework has mostly been watching film of first-year Volunteers coach Butch Jones' previous school, Cincinnati.
"We've studied Cincinnati all winter and summer long so we have a good idea of what their package is," Petrino said. "They're good coaches. They really understand what they want to do and their guys at Cincinnati played extremely well and extremely hard."
Tennessee isn't taking WKU lightly going in to week 2 even with No. 3 Oregon and No. 10 Florida looming in the following weeks. The Volunteers are working to repair a defense that allowed an average of 471 yards of per game last season, including 721 to Sun Belt member Troy.
Jones is obviously keeping an eye on Petrino's main weapon in Doughty.
"He is managing their offense exceptionally well," Jones said. "You look first at the completion percentage, but he's in command and he can make all the throws. They do a great job in their throw game with the rhythm, the play action, the quick game, the intermediate throws."
Volunteers junior cornerback Justin Coleman added that Doughty will test the defense in many areas and their task will be making open-field tackles. WKU's quarterback expects Tennessee's secondary and linebackers to challenge him as well.
WKU offensive coordinator Jeff Brohm is confident his quarterback and offense are up to the task but said it will require pushing themselves harder if they want to start off 2-0, against the nation's toughest conference to boot.
"I think our guys have some confidence now that they can go play when they want to," Brohm said. "Right now it's about refocusing, realizing that every week's a new week. This is a great challenge. We've got to work even harder this week."
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