WKU Football Notes and Thoughts

By: Jeff Woods
By: Jeff Woods

The Hilltoppers will try to win its first home game in nearly three years this Saturday against Indiana State.

September 12, 2011

The Hilltoppers are 0-2 after Saturday's 40-14 loss to Navy at home. WKU has now lost 16 consecutive games at Houchens Smith Stadium dating back to 2008. That streak could end Saturday when FCS opponent Indiana State comes to town. When WKU last played ISU, the Sycamores were a bottom-feeder in what used to be known as 1-AA. Indiana State regularly finished at or near the bottom of the Gateway Conference when it faced WKU year in and year out. That's not the case anymore. In 2010, the Sycamores finished 6-5, just one year after a 1-10 season in 2009. Two of Indiana State's victories last season were against non-Division I teams, but a winning season for the Sycamores is a major step regardless of the opponent. 

Willie Taggart has noticed the change in Indiana State and said this during WKU's media luncheon Monday afternoon.

"They are a good football team. They have a really good quarterback, good receivers and a tight end. They are not the Indiana State of the past. Everyone hears Indiana State and thinks ‘Oh they haven’t won a lot’. They are totally different football club, and they have some really good athletes on their football team. I think they will come in here and give us a good showing. We have to come in and play our ‘A’ game. We have to play our game and take care of our business.”

Fans may remember when WKU beat the Sycamores 56-7 in Terra Haute in 2007. Back then, ISU was a bad football team. Taggart says, however, the Sycamores are brining in some talent.

“They are getting some players in there first. They have some really good athletes in there. When you watch them play, they have confidence. They are playing with confidence and feel like they can get it done. Their teams in the past didn’t play with a lot of confidence, but you watch this football team and they do. Guys are flying around and they get excited about things when they make plays. You just watch them and they look like a team that believes. And I was expecting something different because I hadn’t seen them in a long time. The season they had last year, you watch them on film, they are a pretty good football team. They have some pretty good athletes. Their quarterback transferred from the University of Washington. He is a pretty good football player. And they have a receiver that transferred from Michigan State, I think it is, so I think that is the biggest difference, that they have some big time football players in there making plays for them.”

Hilltopper fans would be wise not to discount Indiana State. The last time the Tops hosted a FCS team, Central Arkansas embarrassed WKU 28-7 in 2009. And UCA was a middle of the road FCS team. The Hilltoppers would go on to finish 0-12 that season. Coach Taggart was quick to point out Monday afternoon that his team is in no position to underestimate any opponent.


More notes and thoughts from Monday:

-I have no idea who will start at quarterback on Saturday, and neither does coach Taggart. It would appear the spot is up for grabs this week. Taggart said both Kawaun Jakes and Brandon Doughty would get reps this week, but he did not specify whether that would be with the first team or second team. It is clear Jakes has not played well in two games. Some of that, however, is on the offensive line and wide receivers. The line did a poor job blocking against Kentucky and receivers either dropped passes or ran the wrong routes against Navy. That being said, Jakes has not performed well enough for the Toppers to be successful. But is Doughty the answer? After his first drive on Saturday, Doughty was 4-of-7 with zero first downs, a sack, and an interception returned for a touchdown. I suppose we'll find out soon enough who will get the start, but we may not know for a few days. We may not even know until Saturday.


-Has anyone else noticed Bobby Rainey has two 100-yard performances in two games? Should we be surprised? Of course not. Has he been overshadowed by the below average performance of the rest of the offense? Absolutely. Rainey is about the only aspect of WKU's offense that has been positive. Taggart said this regarding Rainey's first two games.

“It is good for us to have some consistency somewhere, and he has given us some consistency in our offense. We just have to find some other guys to help him out. Bobby is just Bobby. He comes to work every day and gets it done. We just have to find some guys to help him out and our offense will take off.”


-I could be wrong, but I sensed coach Taggart was a little frustrated Monday at the weekly media luncheon. Or maybe defensive is a better word. I'm sure he did not want to be answering questions about a quarterback controversy two weeks into the season. Some in the media have called for Doughty to get the start this week. In response, Taggart said he is not going to start someone just because the media thinks he should. He also pointed out that we (the media) have high expectations for the program. I cannot speak for the rest of the media, but I think our expectations are based upon the expectations the team has for itself. When a program sets the bar high, and then falls below that bar, I think it is fair for the media to ask why the program didn't reach the bar. And I believe that is what we are seeing right now with WKU. If you are going to talk a big game, you have to play a big game. And if you don't, you better be prepared to explain why you didn't. I think coach Taggart understands this, but that doesn't mean he has to like it.

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