WKU practice update 8/16

16 08 2010

Just returned from Monday night’s practice, a single session, for the Western Kentucky football team.

Here are some tidbits – including your daily quarterback update:

– Crickets up front

Keeping with the offensive line’s current boycott of media requests until the WKU football team breaks its losing skid, offensive centers and guards coach Walter Wells was also informed by his linemen that he won’t be giving any interviews at current moment either.

We did, however, get a chance to speak with both Taggart and tight end Jack Doyle (an extension of the offensive line) on the group’s decision to boycott the media and their overall progress at this point in fall camp.

Look for more on that in Tuesday’s Daily News.

– Race continues to heat up

As the Hilltoppers enter the second week of fall camp, coach Willie Taggart still maintains that both junior Matt Pelesasa and Kawaun Jakes are basically neck and neck in terms of the race for the starting quarterback job.

Taggart admitted Monday, though, that Jakes has been the better of the two over the past few days – including situations where the game has sped itself up due to live contact.

“They’re making some really good plays, both guys,” Taggart said. “For me personally, the bad plays stick out more than the good ones. The last few days, Matt didn’t finish the way we wanted him to – but he did some really good things throughout the day. But that’s two days in a row where we finished and (Pelesasa) turned the football over.

“We’re not going to do that.”

The turnover Taggart was referring to was Pelesasa’s practice-ending pass that was picked off by true freshman cornerback Tyree Robinson during a full-contact two-minute drill.

Jakes didn’t fare very well on either, though, on his attempt at a two-minute run with the first unit – eventually leading the team down inside the opposition’s 30-yard line before seeing the drive stall out on downs.

Both quarterbacks had positive moments on Monday, however, as the offense clearly won the day. Pelesasa showed some very nice touch down near the endzone on a fade-pattern toss to fullback Rod Johnson for a touchdown. Jakes, meanwhile, tossed a picture-perfect play-action pass that went for about a 25-yard touchdown pass to running back Dalton Cissell.

Both players also ran the ball well during moments when the pocket broke down and receivers failed to get open. In short, both Jakes and Pelesasa appear comfortable in the offense to this point – which isn’t a bad thing if you’re Taggart and the WKU coaching staff.

“(This week’s) huge for these guys,” Taggart said. “Reps are going to start dwindling down for a lot of guys out here, including (the quarterbacks). They need to start separating themselves. We’ve been alternating who goes in with the (first team) at different periods of practice. We’re about to start getting to a point where we leave one of them in there a little bit longer.

“You can’t have a bad day. But that goes for all of them. If you’re not focused, we’re not going to put you in there.”

– Not close on redshirts

Taggart said Monday that the team isn’t close on determining which true freshmen will play right away this season, and which will redshirt.

Several true freshmen have made impacts throughout camp – as receiver Donald Campbell drew high praise for most of last week, while Robinson made several plays in the defensive backfield this evening.

“We’re not at any point close to saying who is going to redshirt and who won’t,” Taggart said. “Every single day these guys are getting better. Today Robinson comes up and makes that interception at the end, and it’s an improvement. He was close to making that play all weekend, and then today, he gets there. He needs to keep getting reps, and some other guys are in that same boat.

“You earn reps or you lose reps depending on how you execute. … We’re going to play the guys that are going to help us win football games. If those guys show they’re not ready, we’ll do what’s best for our football team and what’s best for that individual. … And that could change throughout the year, you really never know. I don’t want to go in thinking we’re definitely going to redshirt anyone, because then guys seem to play into a redshirt.”

– Rainey resting

Taggart introduced a new fictional character to the media today that goes along the same line as his ‘Freddy Soft’ persona.

As most know, Freddy Soft is the ‘small guy on your shoulder telling players they shouldn’t work hard,’ according to Taggart.

On Monday, Taggart introduced us to ‘Willie Soft’ when asked why starting junior running back Bobby Rainey has been wearing a yellow jersey and been held out of contact drills.

“Willie Soft is on Bobby Rainey right now,” Taggart laughed. “I’ve told the defensive guys that Bobby Rainey is not to be tackled, I don’t want him being tackled right now. We need Bobby.

“I remember my first year at Stanford we went through six running backs and ended up starting a true freshman defensive back at running back in a game. … That’s kind of what we did with (former Stanford running back Toby Gerhart), he was our guy and we didn’t want him getting beat up in practice. We needed him for the game. And out here, we know what Bobby can do, this also gives other guys a chance to get some reps as well.”

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