Taggart says emotion and focus needs to improve

1 11 2010

Willie Taggart was true to his word Sunday.

After putting together its worst 60 minutes of the season Saturday, Western Kentucky hit the practice field at 6 a.m. for a full workout Sunday morning in an attempt to fix a performance that Taggart said he never wants to see again.

Taggart said Monday that the early-morning session served its purpose in terms of the message he was trying to send, and now it’s time to move forward.

“We got up in the morning, everybody showed up, everybody was dressed and ready and no one was complaining – which was a surprise,” Taggart said. “We said we were going to get up and go, and we did, and that was good to see.

“I expected so much more (Saturday) and we didn’t get it. But you watch the film and it doesn’t look as bad, we just didn’t make plays. Then when it got tough, we tried to reach down and grab something (extra) and we didn’t have anything there.”

Taggart lightened his anger toward the team’s effort following a few watches of Saturday’s game film, but did maintain that the team simply wasn’t ready to play from a focus or emotional standpoint.

Something he puts on himself.

“We were emotionally drained, you look at North Texas and they come in with their emotional cup full and running over and ours was empty and dry,” he said. “You have to be ready to play. It doesn’t matter what the situation is, it’s Saturday. It’s gameday. You’re a football player and you have to find a way to get ready.

“Come gameday, it’s time for them to perform. I put a lot of the blame on me for not having them ready emotionally. Focus-wise, we just weren’t there and that cost us.”

The players themselves didn’t have any better explanation for their performance, agreeing with Taggart in saying that when Saturday rolls around, the group simply has to be ready to compete in a football game for 60 minutes.

As far as the 6 a.m. workout was concerned, players said it wasn’t enjoyable – but then again, it wasn’t supposed to be.

“Everyone was disappointed with the performance,” WKU junior running back Bobby Rainey said. “Getting up (at 6 a.m.) for practice wasn’t good the day after a game, but we brought that on ourselves, we’ve got to do whatever it takes to get the job done.”

Taggart stressed over and over again on Saturday that the lack of offensive playmaking was a huge issue. He put plenty of blame on his receivers for not making catches, and on Monday, he put blame on the offense for a whole for failing to build its own momentum in a second half that offered little to no offensive movement.

And moving forward this week, figuring out which players are willing to step forward and make those plays – and which aren’t – will be a major focus.

“At the end of the day someone has to step up,” “I can’t go play for them, I can only give them the plays. It’s their job to do that play to the best of their ability, and for a guy not to, it’s unacceptable and it’s not being focused.

“Sometimes when you have a young football team it’s tough – I look at these guys like my kids, sometimes I tell (my kids) what to do and they don’t do it. But you make them learn from their mistakes and that’s what we’re doing with this football team.”

Doyle still a question mark
WKU sophomore tight end Jack Doyle was dressed and ready Saturday, but did not play due to a re-aggravation  of a neck injury.

Doyle originally suffered the injury last season, and suffered a flare-up during the Louisiana-Lafayette game two weeks ago.

Taggart said he couldn’t give a definitive answer as to what Doyle’s status would be for this week, but whether he’s ready to go or not, the Hilltoppers will be moving forward.

“He’s doing good, I talked to him earlier today and he’s feeling good but we’ll see if he’s able to practice this week and help us out,” he said. “If not, choo-choo – the train’s going to keep rolling.

“He’s got an injury where rest is about the only thing that’s going to help. We’re not going to jeopardize our kids – we’ve got 85 scholarships, if he’s not ready, someone else will step up and take the load off.”

Hello, Howard
Taggart said that Saturday’s home game against Florida Atlantic won’t be his first meeting with legendary FAU coach Howard Schnellenberger.

The 34-year-old Taggart said he met the 76-year-old former Louisville and Miami coaching legend earlier this summer at the Sun Belt Conference meetings – a meeting that provided a laugh or two at the time.

“I walked up to him, introduced myself and he said ‘who do you play for?’” Taggart said. “I was like, ‘how about that.’ That was my first time talking to him.

“But it’ll be interesting to see him again on the sidelines Saturday.”

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