WKU football presser wrapup

6 09 2010

A couple of notes from Western Kentucky’s weekly football luncheon in preparation for this week’s game at Kentucky on Saturday.

– WKU coach Willie Taggart on further reaction to this past Saturday’s 49-10 loss at No. 8 Nebraska

“I think we have a football team. We did some really good things offensively, we were able to move the ball at will when we wanted to. We started the game out really slow, but once we did that, on both sides of the ball we showed flashes of what we could be.

“But we just didn’t tackle well at all, not on defense and not on special teams. Guys just have to go tackle. Guys have to go get it done. We can’t sit back and wait, and then miss and let a guy go 40-some yards like that.

“We wanted to make them earn everything they got and we didn’t do that. It took away from our gameplan and it got us off schedule. We’ve got to learn how to start off fast and stay fast. But I’m really excited about our offense, not having a lot of false starts in an environment like that. We had that one on the goal line but then we came back and scored. We also didn’t have a lot of negative yard (plays) that’s pretty good against that defense.

“We always talk about staying on schedule – we need to stay on schedule, especially against teams like Nebraska. If you get in those 2nd and longs and 3rd and longs against a team like Nebraska – that’s what they feed off of. It was important for us to do that, and we talked from day one about being hungry for one or two yards. Our guys took that approach, (Bobby Rainey) took that approach and we got some positive yards.”

– Taggart on whether he expects crowd noise to be an issue again this season

“I don’t, I truly don’t. Part of it last week was that it was the first game. Guys were fired up and it was a different atmosphere. A great atmosphere, but it was different for our guys. Again though, it was the first game.”

– Taggart on whether or not Rainey can expect 30 carries each week

“No, no, no, no. Bobby doesn’t need 30 carries, some other guys can step up and help us out. That wasn’t the game plan that we wanted to have. But we get down 21 points, we wanted to grind clock and keep our defense off the field. And Bobby was playing well and he wanted to play, but we’ve got to be smart about the reps he gets. He can’t be a 30 carry per game guy. Now it could happen in some games, because if he’s the guy who is going to do it for us we’ll do it, but we’re not planning on giving the ball to Bobby 30 times a game. He could get 30 touches catching the ball and with some other things, but 20 carries, that’d be great.

“We weren’t doing anything early in the game, so he was fresh. Then we started to get some things going and he felt good and had a good idea of how the defense was playing us. I wasn’t going to take him out – he was doing some good things and I wanted to set an identity for our offense and make sure our guys knew that we could do some positive things against one of the top defenses in the country.”

– Rainey on his workload Saturday

“It doesn’t matter how many carries I get. I wasn’t tired after 30 carries, that goes back to working in the summer and the spring. So 30 carries weren’t a problem. Everything’s good, my neck’s a little sore, but other than that, I’m good. …. It felt like I was back in high school. That’s what I did back then, when I found out I had 30 carries, that’s what it felt like – it was the same mentality as I had back then.”

– Rainey on if he feels his teammates will be ready Saturday to help out more

“They’re always ready to come in and carry the load. As long as we’re moving the ball and making plays, however many carries I get, it doesn’t matter.”

– Taggart on quarterback Kawaun Jakes’ performance

“I thought he was very confident in the gameplan. I thought he was very poised in the pocket, he controlled the offense the way we wanted him to. If some of those receivers catch some of those balls, his stats are probably even better. I thought he played well.

“He was great on the field, he was great on the sidelines and he didn’t get rattled. He got hit pretty hard a couple of times and I was impressed to see him get up. That spoke volumes, he wasn’t complaining – I was doing all the complaining. He was great after the game talking to the team also, telling guys what we need to do to get better.

– Taggart on whether or not bouncing up after being hit extremely hard by Nebraska defensive lineman Jared Crick was a ‘pass of a test’ from a toughness and leadership standpoint for Jakes

“I don’t know if that’s a pass after being hit like that, that was pretty bad. But that goes to show you that he’s a tough kid to stand in there and take a hit like that. He didn’t panic after that either. It’s important to be able to do that in this offense. But maybe it woke him up to let him know to get rid of the ball or run as fast as you can to not let that happen again – but me personally, I was like ‘wow, I hope he gets up.’ But he did.

“Those guys understand that in order for our offense to work, Bobby’s got to do a lot for us but Kawaun’s got to drive the ship and take us to the promised land. He’s got to do all the little things in order to get us there, he’s got to be that leader. He’s getting a grasp of that now and he’s understanding that role we want him to have. We need him to be vocal and he’s starting to do that out there.

– Rainey on Jakes’ performance

Kawaun was Kawaun. Same as always. When he’s calm, we’re calm. When he gets over excited, we calm him down. He’s the leader for us out on the field.”

– Rainey on whether or not Memorial Stadium overtakes Virginia Tech’s Lane Stadium as the loudest place he’s ever played in:

“Nah, Virginia Tech’s still the loudest. Virginia Tech’s the loudest place I’ve ever been.”

– Taggart on what needs to happen this week to improve the team’s defensive effort

“How do you correct the tackling thing? You put someone in there that can do it. We’ve got to find guys who can tackle. That hurt us. If we could have tackled (against Nebraska), we could have stayed on our gameplan. We wanted them to earn everything, we didn’t (make that happen).”

– WKU inside linebacker Thomas Majors on Saturday’s defensive effort:

“We did a poor job tackling. We were in the right spots, people were in the right places, and if it wasn’t for poor tackling, that score wouldn’t have been as bad. It was technique and just tackling, some people were in the wrong places, some were in the right places. We need to get people on the field that want to tackle. That’s our job, bottom line. Get the ball carrier on the ground. I’m going to challenge the whole defense to come out to practice and have the mentality each day to get that ball carrier on the ground by any means necessary. We’re going to tackle better.”

– Taggart on his relationship with Kentucky coach Joker Phillips

“I knew him when I was here coaching before, that’s when I got to know him. I knew him way before now. He was always one of those guys when I was young that you always heard how good he was at recruiting. That’s how I wanted to be known, he was one of those guys that kind of helped me shoot for the stars.

“It’s great (that we’re both head coaches now). I know he’s excited, and it’s exciting just to be a head coach. We all have worked really hard to get here and to get where we’re at. And it’s even better that we’re both at our alma maters because you really have some true feelings toward the school – it becomes a lot more important to you that you get it done.

“I’m going to try to beat him and he’s trying to beat me, he’s not going to take it easy. I’m trying to get to his level, that’s where we’re trying to go as a program. We want to get to bowl games, we want to win. We’re going to compete, no matter what, and we’ll still be friends after the game. But leading up to it, I’m sure he’ll try to find any way he can to take it to us – and I’ll do the same.”

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