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Lucky Jackson And Four Other Players To Watch When WKU Hosts Charlotte

Lucky Jackson And Four Other Players To Watch When WKU Hosts Charlotte
Photo: © Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports
Western Kentucky has found tougher-than-expected sledding through its first five games of the season, but on homecoming this Saturday in Bowling Green, Kentucky, head coach Mike Sanford and the Tops will look to put on a show.

Their next opponent, Charlotte (0-6, 0-2 C-USA), is in just its third season of FBS membership -- and only its fifth season of football, period. On paper, winless Charlotte may not look like much, but the 49ers are closer to finding consistent success than you think. Brad Lambert's bunch showed promise a year ago, going 3-5 in C-USA play.

In many ways, the Hilltoppers (3-2, 1-1) are the model program for the 49ers and others to emulate after transitioning from FCS to FBS a decade ago.

Here are five players you need to keep your eyes on when these teams meet on Saturday.


Lucky Jackson, WKU, WR

Lucky Jackson exploded onto the scene in the Tops' 31-17 season-opening victory against Eastern Kentucky on September 2, setting a career high with 144 receiving yards -- including this 66-yard touchdown strike:

Through five games, Jackson leads Western with 309 receiving yards and has caught five or more passes on three occasions.

Hasaan Klugh, Charlotte, QB

Preseason hype surrounding Klugh and the 49ers revolved around his ability to lead the program to its first bowl game in its fifth season -- his first full go-round as the starting quarterback.

Things have not gone according to plan. Klugh led Charlotte to three C-USA wins after taking over the gig five games into last season, but the 49ers have yet to claim win No. 1 in 2017. Still, Klugh is a dynamic talent with the ability to beat a defense with his arm or his legs, and, despite the team's struggles, Klugh has remained a bright spot this season.

He will have an impact on Saturday's outcome -- one way or another.

Mike White, WKU, QB

Mike White passed for 4,363 yards, 37 touchdowns, and just seven picks last season en route to Conference USA player of the year honors. In a new offense this season, White has had a tougher time creating the big play.

The quarterback has completed 66 percent of his throws for 1,255 yards -- an average of 251 per game -- but has just two touchdowns versus three interceptions.

He'll look to get the deep ball going against a Charlotte secondary that has, at times, been prone to surrendering yards in chunks.

Benny LeMay, Charlotte, RB

Looking for a place to lay blame for an 0-6 start? Don't look at the 49ers running back. Benny LeMay has been, in large part, outstanding for Charlotte, rushing for 488 yards -- at an average clip of 6.34 yards per carry.

LeMay rushed for a career-best 158 yards against North Carolina A&T on September 16 -- and then topped that with 178 yards on 22 carries against Florida International two weeks ago.

Joel Iyiegbuniwe, WKU, LB

As is so often the case, Joel Iyiegbuniwe will be the most talented defender on the field on Saturday. As a sophomore, Iyiegbuniwe tallied 10 tackles for loss and 3 1/2 sacks. This season, he's been up to more of the same, pacing the Hilltoppers with 42 total tackles and four tackles behind the line of scrimmage.

He's powerful and fast and impossible for the offense to avoid. Look for Iyiegbuniwe to wreak havoc against a Charlotte offense that will need to run the football to survive.

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