Willie Taggart talks Louisiana-Monroe game

14 10 2010

Western Kentucky coach Willie Taggart met with the media this afternoon to talk all things WKU football, especially Saturday’s upcoming home contest against Louisiana-Monroe – which kicks at 6 p.m. (CDT).

Here are some snippets:

On whether or not he’s got the urgency in practice he wanted this week:

“I think our team saw how close we were last week and knew we did it to ourselves. They’re tired of hearing that we’re close, they’re tired of saying it to each other. It’s time for someone to just go out and do it. Everything that needs to be said has been said. It’s time to go out and make plays.”

“Our guys aren’t quitting, and with a young football team that’s been through this, it easily could have gone the other way. A young team could have went the other way, but they haven’t. That’s improvement and that’s going to pay off here soon.
“Guys are going to keep coming. But the only one’s in our way is us – and the only ones that need to get out of the way is us.”

“We’re at the bottom, all those things we all want aren’t going to happen overnight. They’re not. It’s the small things that the outside doesn’t see. This is a young football team, we need to continue to improve. But we need to start making plays. And I’ve seen that in practice. Before where we were blitzing and guys were playing way far off, we do the same thing this week, and guys are right in there close and making plays. It’s little things like those that are going to help us on Saturday.”

On if he thinks this team is finally ready to break out of this 25-game losing streak:

“Everybody thinks I’m crazy, but I truly believe that our guys are talented enough to win a lot of ballgames in this conference. They just don’t know how to win yet, it’s making those catches and doing the little things. Making those throws, running the right routes and doing it for four quarters consistently. We haven’t had any consistency yet, not like we want. And that’s part of the learning process.”

“Then you see that all the hard work and everything pays off, that’s another thing that goes away when you don’t have any success. You get that win, guys change. They’ll see how people look at them differently, people will talk to them on the way to class then, they come into the locker room better, the weight room is better, class is better, they’ll sit up in the front of that class because they’re not afraid or embarrassed anymore. It’ll also change a lot of people in this community. The way they look at us and people will be excited again – we haven’t had that in a while.”

On the need for more leadership from his players:
“If there’s one thing you can say that most people won’t see that’s hurt us is leadership, that’s been a problem. That’s when this team is going to take off and go to another level, when we have those guys step up and lead this team themselves.
“We can only show and teach so much – winning teams have those guys on the field that can make everyone else accountable for what they do.”

“It’s the whole culture that doesn’t allow those guys to step up and do it. Losing takes a lot out of you in a lot of different ways, and part of that leads to people feeling like they can’t step up and say anything. We have a lot of guys lead by example, and that’s great – but we need someone to step up and get in people’s faces and hold them accountable.
“I’d love for our quarterback to do it. I’d love for our middle linebacker to do it. There’s a lot of guys I’d love to do it. If they’re the right one to do it, they’ll do it. If not, we’ll find who will.”

What to expect from ULM this week:

“Monroe’s a good football team, a young football team and a lot like ourselves because they’re also adjusting to a new staff. You watch what they do on offense and defense and the defense is a lot like it was last year, offensively it’s a lot of things that try to confuse you. If you’re not disciplined, they’ll make you pay. Defense is the same thing, they’re going to move guys around and do a lot of blitzing – we have to be disciplined this week in order to be successful.”

Taggart also said that junior safety Mark Santoro did in fact return to practice this week, and should be available for Saturday’s game. Santoro has missed WKU’s last two games at South Florida and at Florida International with a neck injury.

He likely won’t be starting at his old strong safety slot, however, as redshirt freshman Kiante Young has taken ownership of that spot for the time being – according to Taggart. Taggart didn’t rule out the idea that Santoro could see plenty of time at the free safety position, however, as that’s a position Taggart says he wants someone to step up and ‘lock down.’

“If Mark wants to lock that spot down, he has the license to do it,” Taggart said. “Just like everyone else.”

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