WKU football goes through first live practice of the spring

26 03 2011

Western Kentucky put on pads and faced live hitting for the first time this spring.

WKU spent about an hour of its two-hour session Saturday going through live tackling drills for the first time since the end of the 2010 season, and according to coach Willie Taggart, everything went as well as expected.

“We always talk about separating the men from the boys, and today was one of those days where we went out there with live bullets,” Taggart said. “And we could really see who’s ready to play and who’s not. And a couple guys we thought were on the soft side proved us wrong.

“We’ve still got some boys out there that are growing up quick and have no choice but to grow up. But we had a lot of guys step up and make plays on both sides of the ball.”

Players tended to agree, saying that even though it was cold and wet out – it finally felt like football.

“We’re getting back into everything and getting our techniques back down and so far it’s going pretty good,” WKU senior offensive tackle Wes Jeffries said. “We’re a year into the whole system and I can remember last year during the first day of spring we didn’t know what was going on.

“Everybody’s got a feel for it now. … We’re ready. We know we can play with this type of competition now. Last year some of the guys were hesitant about playing against some of these schools, but now we know we can beat them.”

Linebacker spot heats up

One position group that seems to be completely open this spring is all three linebacking spots.

Taggart and company will welcome a handful of new faces when the 2011 signing class hits campus this summer, but so far, the players already at practice have done their part to keep the race for spots at both outside linebacker positions and the middle linebacker spot pretty wide open.

“A guy that really showed up today was Tenerio Davis,” Taggart said. “He made some plays today. Xavius Boyd also stood out and so did one of our walk-ons, Tyler Julian. Every time I turned around he was doing something. Everybody’s buying in and competing and that’s making us better as a football team.”

Taggart said that as far as the inside linebacker spot is concerned, the front runner as of now has to be junior Tye Golden.

Golden stands at 6-2, 226 – but appears to be in much better shape this spring from an overall muscle standpoint. The current WKU roster isn’t filled with much size at the linebacker spot (as former inside backer Thomas Majors sat at about 240), but it does have speed.

And through the first week of practice, Golden has began to separate himself as the new man in the middle for the WKU defense.

“Right now if I had to pick one guy there it’d be Tye Golden,” Taggart said. “He’s ready to play. He’s hungry and he’s taking pride in everything. He’s also a kid that’s totally different than he was when we first got here, I thought he was a little on the soft side. I told him before he needed to think about whether he wanted to play this sport or not.

“But he proved me wrong, and he’s having a heck of a spring (session).”

Quarterback competition

Taggart said that both junior Kawaun Jakes and redshirt freshman Brandon Doughty have continued to progress this week on the field and from a leadership standpoint.

Jakes is still the starter at this point, but with only two signal callers in camp – the reps are basically being split down the middle at this point.

“Kawaun looks bigger and stronger and is trying to become that leader we all want him to be, but we want Brandon to be that, too,” Taggart said. “Those guys are taking strides with that. Kawuan’s progressing in that and looks sharper in his drops. Today he didn’t have a great day, but when he has a bad day I want to see how he responds.

“I told them both there has to be competition and that’s how you have to prepare every day. It’s going great right now and I’m loving it. Before we only had one guy, now we’ve got two there that can compete – because Brandon’s doing some good things.”

Taggart has also spent more time with the quarterbacks this spring, as he’s taken on the role of quarterbacks coach himself this season – something he said he’s enjoying.

“I love it,” Taggart said. “I played the position, I understand the position and that helps. To be honest, that’s my heart – the quarterback position, it’s all I did. And it’s been exciting to spend more time with those guys and at the end of the day I want them to see the offense exactly how I see it – so when we get into a game, if there are any problems, they’ll know what to do.

“It’s been fun. It probably hasn’t been as much fun for them, but for me it’s been fun. I have high expectations for them at that position and that’s how they have to practice, walk, talk, go to class – we have high expectations for that position.”

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2 responses

26 03 2011
Topper10

I am excited to hear about the energy and fire on this team. Nick what are thoughts on the QBs? Is Doughty pushing K1? I know he still young and this his first spring camp. your thoughts?

26 03 2011
Nick Baumgardner

Topper10,

First off, love that email address – big time.

Second, it’s probably way too early to tell just how much Doughty will push Jakes for that starting spot. Both players will get plenty of reps this spring and will get the lion’s share once fall camp opens up.
So far, it appears both have pretty much had a push through the first week – which means that Jakes is still very much the team’s starting quarterback.
Being a redshirt freshman with no game experience, Doughty is really going to have to outplay Jakes this spring and throughout fall camp to take that job away. Not saying it’s impossible, but it’s going to be tough. Jakes has started a ton of games already in his career – and though he doesn’t have hardly any wins to his credit, he’s seen the speed of big-time football more than most at this point in his career.

What I would say though is that if Doughty continues to push Jakes throughout the season, and Jakes goes through some tough spots, the staff likely won’t be AS hesitant to give Doughty a look.

But that’s a really long way away.

I do know that both of those guys get along really well. We asked Jakes about Doughty today, and he just said ‘that’s my guy.’ Both players are going hard for that top spot, but both have been team-first guys since the day they arrived at WKU. Can’t ask for much more than that if you’re the staff.

I’ve always felt that Doughty has the better overall arm, but Jakes easily wins the athletic/intangible battle.

But what do I know, right?

Long way to go in that race, but it’ll be interesting to see how both progress as time goes forward.

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