Hilltoppers not focused on last meeting with UK

6 09 2010

The game that started the streak, and ultimately the overall slide of the Western Kentucky football program took place at Commonwealth Stadium on Sept. 27, 2008.

The Hilltoppers entered the game at a respectable 2-2 with a healthy K.J. Black – a then sophomore quarterback – ready to start. It was supposed to be a chance for a coming out party both in the state and in the region for the WKU football program in its final year of a transition to the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision.

But, of course as we all know that, that didn’t happen.

The Hilltoppers managed just 157 yards of total offense – 99 of those from Bobby Rainey – and were completely manhandled in the process, resulting in a 41-3 loss.

WKU hasn’t won a game since, and is currently set to head into its second ever meeting with Kentucky on Saturday with a 21-game losing streak in tow.

As rough as that day in Lexington was two years ago, a lot has changed. David Elson is no longer the coach at WKU, K.J. Black quit the team later that week and now plays at Prairie View A&M and even former Wildcats coach Rich Brooks is gone to retirement, giving way to current head man Joker Phillips – a Franklin native.

A lot’s happened in two years, but this week, first-year WKU coach Willie Taggart says that no one inside the Hilltopper locker room will put any stock into what transpired on Sept. 27, 2008.

“We don’t care anything about what’s happened in the past, nothing at all,” Taggart said Monday. “I wasn’t here, a lot of (our) coaches weren’t here and it’s just a lot different. The things we’re doing are different, there are no similarities.

“It doesn’t matter what happened then. A lot of their guys are different. New coaches, new players on both sides of the ball.”

Rainey agreed with his new coach, saying that the current members of the WKU roster that played in that game two years ago have completely forgotten the experience – and will only focus on the opportunity they have this week.

Taggart added that the game does take on a special significance not just for the current Kentucky-born players on the roster, but also from a recruiting standpoint for the WKU program and the overall perception of the Hilltopper football in the state.

“It’s very important,” Taggart said. “We want to be known as one of the top teams in the state. It’s a graet opportunity that we get to play Kentucky. Now we get to play for the crown. They beat U of L, now if we beat them, I guess we’ll be state champs.

“We have an opportunity, and every time you get one you have to take advantage of it. It’s good, because a lot of our players have former teammates playing at UK so I’m sure they’ll be talking some smack to each other. But also for recruiting. From a recruiting standpoint, we’ve got to play UK for the next four years, so we have to start competing against them for recruits in the state. We’ve got to try to start getting some of those guys. But the only way to do that is to beat UK, to show people we’re for real and that we can play football here.”

Asked the ever-difficult question about his feelings toward certain WKU students that openly support Kentucky throughout the year,  especially this week, Taggart chuckled and said that the only way to change the minds of those people is to go out and win a football game.

“That’s going to take winning,” he said. “But if they’re wearing blue  on this campus you know it’s going to be tough, because that’s totally disrespectful of this university if they’re wearing any blue. If they want to wear blue, they can go there.

“We’ve got to win in order to change (some of those people’s minds). We’ve got to win to earn respect and get people believing in what we do.”

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7 09 2010
» BBL: WKU not thinking about last meeting with UK John Clay’s Sidelines

[…] Western Kentucky not thinking about its last meeting with UK, reports Nick Baumgardner of the Bowling Green Daily News. […]

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