September 19, 2011
Remember when it was okay or even cool to say Western Kentucky? Or just Western? The football team was pretty good back then.
Nearly 48 hours after WKU lost 44-16 at home to Indiana State, I still cannot come up with one positive from Saturday's game. Not one. Let's consider the facts.
-The Hilltoppers lost to an FCS team by 28 points...at home. Sure, this is an improved Indiana State team, but losing to the Sycamores would have been a bad loss when both competed in the Gateway Conference.
-WKU gave up more than 200 yards rushing Indiana State. The Hilltoppers only gave up 190 yards total against Kentucky.
-Through three games, WKU's offensive line has been lackluster at best. Maybe that media boycott isn't working after all.
-Bobby Rainey required a 26-yard run with less than three minutes remaining to reach 100 yards for the game. He has now rushed for at least 100 yards in eight straight games. And reaching that plateau required the most effort on Saturday. Have I mentioned Indiana State is I-AA?
-Jessie Roy made his appearance of the season and kicked a 40-yard field goal. He later missed an extra point.
-Statistically, Kawaun Jakes played better. He finished 22-of-30 for 237 yards and two touchdowns. Jakes also threw an interception which nearly led to a pick six. Ultimately, the turnover led to an Indiana State field goal, which put the Sycamores up 17-3 at halftime. Keep in mind the Hilltoppers were inside the 25-yard line and in position to score when Jakes threw the interception. Jakes also fumbled in the third quarter which ISU converted into a touchdown.
-Antonio Andrews fumbled on WKU's opening possession in the second half which also led to a Sycamore touchdown.
-Brandon Doughty started at quarterback but played just one series after leaving the game with an injury. Two days later, we have learned his season will probably be over due to an ACL tear.
-Marcus Vasquez caught his first touchdown pass of the season. He needed help off the field on WKU's last offensive play. He too will probably miss the rest of the season from a torn ACL.
-WKU lost by 28 to a FBS team at home. I just felt like that needed repeating.
Have I left anything out? Anything positive from Saturday's game can be immediately followed by "Yeah but..."
And for those who wanted to see Doughty under center? It looks like Jakes is the guy for the remainder of the season. I can't see Willie Taggart yanking the red shirt off of freshmen James Mauro, Dyron Speight, or Alex Mallory.
The bigger problem moving forward may be at wide receiver. Once again, the Tops will be without their number one wideout. Throw in the Willie McNeal injury from spring football and WKU is very young, very inexperienced, and very thin at wide receiver. Taggart must find someone to step up, and fast.
The bye week could not have come at a better time...I think. It is great for the team. If all goes well, the Toppers can put the Indiana State game in their rear-view mirror, re-focus, right the wrongs and get ready for the Sun Belt opener on October 1. As crazy as it sounds, WKU can still win the Sun Belt.
But where does that leave fans? One of two scenarios can happen. One, fans also forget (somewhat) about the Indiana State loss and give the Hilltoppers one last shot when the team hosts Arkansas State. Or, fans have already thrown in the red towel and attendance will drop below 10,000 for Arkansas State. Ultimately, YOU will decide which scenario plays out.
The one thing we have learned through the first three games: Western Kentucky is NOT a good football team.