Boca Raton Bowl grades: Hilltoppers roll behind Wales’ production

The Hilltoppers rolled to a victory behind a huge game from their running back.

| 6 months ago
(Rob Foldy/Getty Images)

(Rob Foldy/Getty Images)

Boca Raton Bowl grades: Hilltoppers roll behind Wales’ production

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers 51, Memphis Tigers 31

Here are the top-graded players and biggest takeaways from Western Kentucky’s 51-31 win over Memphis in the Boca Raton Bowl:

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers

Quarterback grade: Mike White, 62.9

White excels when given time by offensive line

Senior quarterback Mike White was productive when not under pressure, completing 17 of those 23 attempts for 255 yards for an average of 11.1 yards per attempt. While only under pressure on 14 of his 38 drop backs, he did fumble while trying to climb the pocket on one of those plays and only completed 42 percent of his passes.

Top offensive grades:

HB Anthony Wales, 88.0
T Forrest Lamp, 83.6
G Brandon Ray, 78.8
WR Taywan Taylor, 74.7
T Darrell Williams Jr, 71.8

Wales accumulates over 300 yards of offense for Hilltoppers

Running back Anthony Wales saved the best game of his college career for last, as he rushed for over 240 yards on 35 carries and caught four passes for 84 yards. He found running lanes with his vision as 73 of the 243 rushing yards came after contact, he also forced four missed tackles on the night. Taywan Taylor was the Hilltoppers leading receiver, catching 9 of his 15 targets for 145 yards for an impressive 16.1 yards per catch. Tackle Forrest Lamp ended the season surrendering only one quarterback hurry all year and only giving up 3 sacks in his entire college career, he’ll hope to bring that consistency next year on Sundays.


Top defensive grades:

LB Keith Brown, 84.9
DI Omarius Bryant, 83.0
DI Nick Dawson-Brents, 81.9
ED Derik Overstreet, 81.8
CB Drell Greene, 76.2

Defensive front provides plenty of pressure for defense

Defensive end Omarius Bryant was virtually unblockable for the Tigers offensive line, providing a staggering 10 quarterback hurries and a QB hit, bringing his total to 45 hurries on the season, that’s 30 more than he had last season. The defensive unit hurried opposing quarterback Riley Ferguson 25 times and hit him four times as the defensive front dominated the Tigers offensive line throughout the night. Linebacker Keith Brown had an impressive interception, disrupting the timing on a crossing pattern then stepping in front to intercept it which contributed to a 88.7 coverage grade for him.

Memphis Tigers

Quarterback grade: Riley Ferguson, 63.6

Ferguson under pressure throughout the evening

Despite the poor play from his offensive line, quarterback Riley Ferguson had a very strong performance through the air, completing 25 passes for 372 yards and four touchdowns. On intermediate and deep throws, Ferguson was 10-of-20 for 184 yards and two touchdowns. Ferguson’s numbers dropped off significantly while under pressure, completing only 8-of-17 for an average of 5.4 yards per throw and throwing his only interception of the game.

Top offensive grades:

WR Anthony Miller, 78.4
TE Daniel Montiel, 74.5
T Trevon Tate, 71.4
WR Daniel Hurd, 69.2
HB Doroland Dorceus, 69.1

Miller top-graded offensive player for Tigers

Wide receiver Anthony Miller had himself quite a bowl game. He was targeted 14 times, catching 11 of those for 151 yards and three touchdowns. His grade would’ve been higher had he not dropped a pass, but all told, Ferguson had a QB rating of 151.2 while throwing his way. It was a dreadful night for the Tigers’ offensive line, as they surrendered 22 hurries and allowed four quarterback hits on top of the 5 sacks. Left guard Dustin Woodard and Right tackle Christopher Roberson were responsible for 13 of the 22 pressures allowed as they had tough assignments going up against Western Kentucky defensive linemen Omarius Bryant and Derik Overstreet.

Top defensive grades:

CB Dontrell Nelson, 87.2
DI Emmanuel Cooper, 74.0
DI Jonathan Wilson, 71.8
CB Arthur Maulet, 71.2
LB Curtis Akins, 69.4

Cornerbacks Nelson and Maulet stand out for Tigers defense

Cornerback Dontrell Nelson had an impressive game in coverage, thrown toward six times and only giving up 3 catches for 22 yards, he tackled the opposing receiver almost immediately on all three occasions, giving up a total of one yard after the catch. The corner on the opposite side had an impressive game as well, although not in the traditional sense a cornerback normally would. Arthur Maulet had three sacks in the game as the Tigers dialed up the nickel blitz numerous times. Maulet also had 8 stops in the game, a huge number for a cornerback.

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