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Western Kentucky Coach Tyson Helton Comments on Indiana Matchup

Western Kentucky is off to a 2-0 start to the season with wins over Austin Peay and Hawaii. After a highly-contested game against Indiana in 2021, Western Kentucky coach Tyson Helton shared his thoughts on the Hoosiers on Monday.
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Western Kentucky football coach Tyson Helton spoke to the media on Monday ahead of the Hilltoppers' road trip to Bloomington, Ind. in Week 3. Western Kentucky is off to a 2-0 start this year with a 38-27 win over Austin Peay, a 49-17 victory at Hawaii and a bye week last weekend.

Last year's game between Indiana and Western Kentucky in Bowling Green, Ky. was a highly-contested matchup that ended in a 33-31 Indiana win. 

Here's what Helton said about Indiana on Monday.

Q: You played these guys last year in a close game here at home, how much do you take away from that? Looking at the stat sheet here, there's a lot of different guys from last year.

Helton: "It's a new season. Both teams have a new team with new guys playing for them. They're a good football team. They're doing a really good job. If you look at all three phases, they look pretty stout and pretty strong in all three phases, so it's going to take our best game for sure to go win. But our guys are excited about the opportunity. We had a close one last year. If we can play well, I think we'll match up well with them. I say all the time it's a four-quarter game and we've got to play all four quarters, play a good, clean game and hopefully in the last five minutes try to go win."

Q: With the bye week, did you have a chance to watch Indiana's game against Idaho, and if so, did you have any impressions or takeaways from that game?

Helton: "I've watched both games they've played, and again, they're a good team. They're doing a nice job. They scheme you up pretty good. They've got playmakers on both sides of the ball, so it will be challenging for us for sure, but we're excited about the opportunity."

Q: Earlier in the week, we talked to [quarterback Austin Reed] about playing against Indiana, and he said one of the reasons he transferred here [from Division II West Florida] was to play against good teams like this. Have you seen that attitude in practice?

Helton: No, I mean he's his normal self going through the normal procedures during the week. We don't talk much about opponents, we just focus on ourselves from week to week and so long as you do that, usually things turn out well for you. But he's done a really good job so far, Austin has, from a preparation standpoint. I've been really impressed with his preparation in the early part of the season. Our guys, again, they don't really try to think of, 'Hey, this is a big game.' They just want to go out there and play well and try to win the game. I like where we're at right now."

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Q: Your offensive line has been solid through these first two games, obviously everyone talks about the Big Ten being tough, physical football. What have you seen from [Indiana's] defense, six sacks on the year, the pressure they bring and the challenges they present and how to guard it?

Helton: "They can rush four and get to the quarterback. They don't have to bring pressure. And when they do bring pressure, they do a nice job disguising the blitzes to match the protection scheme. They scheme you up pretty good. Their front four is doing a pretty good job, and if you can get home with just your front four, it helps you in coverage. That's going to be a big challenge for our offensive line this week is some of those one-on-one matchups out on the edges and inside with their three techniques and all those things. Our guys have done a nice job the first two games, but this will be a real test for our offensive line for sure."

Q: When you look at their offense and quarterback Connor Bazelak, what have you seen from him and how does he compare to some of the other quarterbacks you've faced?

Helton: Good player, accurate quarterback, has good timing, understands where the ball is supposed to go, seems to have full command of the offense. The last game they played against Idaho, it was raining in that game, so it's tough when the ball is wet but I still think he threw the ball extremely well. It will be a challenge for our secondary, for sure. We've got to get pressure on the quarterback and try to get him off his spots and try to get the ball out. [Bazelak] is a good player and I'm impressed with him in the first two games."

Q: Are you excited to see how your team responds to playing in front of a Big Ten crowd?

Helton: Good question, I think that is something that's always good to see because crowds do play into a game, so we need to be not focused on the crowd by any means, but to be in that atmosphere will help us down the road for sure in some of the conference games we play in and other games throughout the season. Any time you get an opportunity to play in front of a great crowd like Indiana has, that's a fun game to be a part of, so just the environment in general, I think, will be good for us."

Q: Are you going to be pumping in crowd noise this week in practice to prepare?

Helton: No crowd noise this week. For what we do and how we operate, we usually don't focus on that. I expect their crowd – I've been up there a couple times and it's a great stadium, great atmosphere, they're great fans, so it should be a really good Big Ten environment for sure. I'm sure their crowd will definitely be up for the game. 

Q: In order to beat Indiana or any Power Five team, you have to be able to stop the run and they've got a guy in [Shaun] Shivers who had 150-plus rushing yards last week. What do you expect from him and how are you expecting to stop him?

Helton: Yeah, I've been impressed with their whole running back corps. No matter who is in there, they've done a nice job. They run with power, they've got good pad level, the line's got good push up front. They've done a really good job, and they're doing a nice job of mixing the run with the pass. They've changed a little bit, they're a little more spread you out and tempo and those kinds of things, but when they hand the ball off they're very productive with the run, so that's definitely something that we've got to be able to do, stop the run, and we're working hard on that piece, but they're doing a really good job of keeping teams off balance right now and we've just got to try to keep them behind the chains. You don't want to end up in third-and-2, third-and-3 scenarios. It's better if you're getting third-and-6, third-and-7, now it's an advantage for your defense, and if you end up in a lot of third-and-short scenarios, it's going to be an advantage for their offense for sure. 

  • INDIANA DEFEATS IDAHO Indiana faced a 10-0 halftime deficit at home against Idaho, but the offense found a rhythm in the third quarter to secure a 35-22 win. “We just can’t wait until halftime to start playing football," Indiana coach Tom Allen said. CLICK HERE
  • WHAT TOM ALLEN SAID: It wasn't pretty in the first half, but a win is a win. Hear what Indiana football coach Tom Allen said in the post game press conference about the Hoosiers' 35-22 win over Idaho. Read the transcript, or just watch the attached video of the full press conference. CLICK HERE
  • PHOTO GALLERY: Although it was a rocky and rainy start, there are some great pictures to show for Indiana's 35-22 win over the Idaho Vandals. Take a look at more than 20 action shots including plenty of touchdown celebrations. CLICK HERE