WKU practice update 8/24

24 08 2010

The defense ruled the day during most of the latter half of practice, especially from a turnover standpoint.

In the final hour or so of practice, the first-team defense racked up a whopping six turnovers – including one final interception return for a touchdown by Orlando Misaalefua.

Linebackers Chris Bullard and Tenerio Davis also collected offensive miscues, while sophomore corner Jamal Forrest picked up a fumble and made an interception. The other interception was true freshman defensive back Ty Scott.

The practice actually wrapped on Misaalefua’s return for a score, which led the the entire defense celebrating as a group in the endzone.

“Defensively we keep preaching it and those guys are finally doing it,” WKU coach Willie Taggart said. “When they do that, they’re starting to believe in themselves and knowing that they can really do this.

“That has to be the expectation for our defense – make plays, get off the field and be a ball hawk. Those guys did that today.”

The downside for WKU in that scenario was the fact that the second-team offense had a terrible showing. True freshman quarterback Brandon Doughty was pickd three times in the final hour, not his best outing – something Taggart said needs to improve.

“Brandon made a lot of bad throws, a lot of throws he shouldn’t have made,” Taggart said. “He was kind of choreographing throws and the defense took advantage. It’s good for our defense. They’ve been watching film, they’ve been learning from things.

“Guys trust what they see out there, a lot of times they doubt themselves rather than just playing fast – they’re playing fast and just reacting. Guys were doing what we’ve been preaching, and it’s good to see that.”

Junior quarterback Matt Pelesasa was in pads this afternoon, but didn’t actually work out with either offense. Starter Kawaun Jakes worked exclusively with the first unit.

Kicking question marks

With junior kicker Casey Tinius still nursing a groin injury, WKU has had an interesting situation at both the placekicking and punting situations.

Leading Taggart to make the comment that he’s seriously considering holding an open tryout to find more kicking depth.

“We’ve got  a lot of work to do there, punting and kicking,” Taggart said. “Casey Tinius hasn’t been able to kick, and you’re hopeful one of the other guys will step up – but they haven’t enough to where I’m comfortable.

“We’re seriously thinking about holding and open tryout out here to get someone to come out here and kick the ball for us. We need a kicker. It’s open competition for everyone out there, including them. All you have to do is kick it through the yellow things – that’s all we ask.”

Taggart said he hopes to have Tinius back by the end of the week in preparation for the first game week of the season.

Special teams coordinator Karl Maslowski was a little more optimistic about the kicking situation – which includes redshirt freshman Monte Merrick and freshman Kevin Carillo at the kicking spot, with redshirt freshman Hendrix Brakefield handling the punting.

“It’s progressing,” Maslowski said. “It’s not where we want it to be, but for the most part we’ve got two kickers. We want Tinius to be the guy, he’s banged up right now and once he gets back we’ll be where we want.

“Monte’s coming along though. A couple of weeks ago, he was missing everything. But he’s making his extra points now and doing the other things we ask – we’re getting there.”

From a punting standpoint, Maslowski said that Brakefield has the ability to be as good a punter as predecessor Jeremy Moore – who was the team’s starter for the past three seasons. But he just has to find some consistency.

“The biggest thing right now is to come up with some schemes to deal with some inconsistencies, we want to be able to get punts off and make sure someone doesn’t get a return on us,” Maslowski said. “Brakefield’s a good punter now, when he gets a hold of it and is consistent. Jeremy and (former WKU punter) Brian Claybourn, those were some elite kids. Brakefield can hit it 65, 70 yards when he gets a hold of it – he just has to be more consistent. He’ll get there, he’s just young.”

Injury updates

Taggart said that the team suffered its first major injury of camp today when sophomore linebacker Chuck Franks had to be removed from the field with a knee injury.

Taggart said after practice he didn’t know exactly the extent of the injury, but he didn’t sound overly optimistic.

In other injury news, receiver Dexter Haynes continued to sit out with what Taggart described as a dislocated rib. Junior running back Bobby Rainey also didn’t practice today, but as he has claimed for the past week, Rainey’s absence from practice is simply a precaution.

Andrews watches

Former Fort Campbell standout quarterback – and 2009 Kentucky Mr. Football – Antonio Andrews caught practice from the stands this afternoon.

As most know by now, Andrews has left the Air Force prep academy and has plans on enrolling and playing at WKU.

Sources close to the situation maintain that the only thing standing in the way at this point is clearance from the NCAA.




2 responses

25 08 2010

What has happened with Monte Merrick? He came in as one of the highest rated kickers in the country, and now is struggling to make extra points? Do you think it is a matter of technique or a confidence issue, and will he be able to overcome it? He is definitely needed as a consistent backup, especially considering the injury issues Tinius has seemed to struggle through his entire career on the Hill.

25 08 2010
J.J. Merrick

Monte will be back… he is rusty but the kid is determined. He came from something like 21 straight High School wins and a championship to being shelved. It hurt his momentum and his confidence. He is getting stronger and better each day.

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