The WKU offense (wearing white jerseys) outscored the team’s defense (wearing red jerseys) 68-36 in the annual Red-White game Saturday night that capped the 2009 spring practice season. Due to a number of injuries and a resulting lack of depth that prohibited the traditional drafting of teams, an elaborate scoring system was devised that enabled both the team’s offense and defense to score points.
“There is no question we have improved,” Head Coach David Elson said. “We have to play smarter, but I like the fact that we compete, are very hungry, and are eager to learn. You always come out of it better, but we have to evaluate how much better. We need to let it soak in, do a thorough review of this scrimmage, look at previous scrimmages, and then determine how much progress we have made. We have to have a great summer. All this does is set the depth chart going into summer.”
Senior quarterback Brandon Smith completed three of nine passes for 59 yards including a 30-yard touchdown strike to Dustin Boyer, while adding a 73-yard touchdown run. Redshirt freshman quarterback Marcus Vasquez completed eight of nine passes for 115 yards including an 18-yard scoring pass to freshman tight end Jack Doyle. Doyle had 60 total receiving yards on six receptions. Vasquez also had a 51-yard pass to sophomore wide receiver Blake Ayers. Redshirt freshman quarterback Kawaun Jakes completed 12 of 18 passes for 131 yards. Senior running backs Tyrell Hayden (6-38) and Marell Booker (6-34, 1 TD) paced the Hilltopper rushing attack. Sophomore Antionne Lightfoot returned six kickoffs for 210 yards including returns of 66 and 41 yards.
“Our offense got off to a slow start, and I thought it might be a long day for them,” Elson said. “One of the good things to learn from this is how a couple of big plays can really help turn the momentum. We had some guys step up and make plays. Tyrell Hayden and Marell Booker handled their roles well. Brandon Smith was solid, Marcus Vasquez looked smooth at times, and I thought Kawaun Jakes got better as the scrimmage went on. Our return game with Antionne Lightfoot and Anthony Sheppard really put us in some good field position.”
Redshirt freshman defensive end Johnathan Scott had a pair sacks, and junior linebacker Chris Bullard had two tackles for loss to lead the WKU defensive effort. “Rarely is everybody healthy, but I looked over at the sideline a couple of times and couldn’t help but wonder what we will look like when we get everybody healthy,” Elson said. “Our defense is really missing some key leadership in Blake Boyd and L.J. Harbison, but this also enabled some young guys to get a lot of repetitions and some great experience.”
The Hilltoppers, one of only 120 Football Bowl Subdivision (I-A) teams, are eligible for a bowl berth and the Sun Belt Conference championship for the first time in 2009. WKU opens the 2009 season at Tennessee on September 5.