WKU football practice notes

16 08 2011

Western Kentucky hit the practice field early this morning for a two-a-day workout, a few notes.

Sophomore running back Antonio Andrews is no longer just a running back.

The coaching staff has lined him up at running back, wide receiver, quarterback, punt returner and kick returner this season in a role he simply described as a ‘hybrid.’

Andrews says that in a perfect world, he’d have just one position so he could learn to ‘perfect’ it, but he’s excited about having a chance to be on the field in a variety of roles this season.

“They’re just trying to get me on the field,” Andrews said. “They just want the ball in my hand more and want to allow me to make plays. I’m just trying to do whatever I can to help the team get some ‘w’s’ as a whole.”

WKU coach Willie Taggart said that the idea came to him to use Andrews in multiple spots last season, when he got confused as to whether it was Andrews or senior running back Bobby Rainey in the backfield at a given time.

“A few times last year when he got into the game at running back I thought it was Bobby back there,” he said. “Then I’d look over and see Bobby standing next to me – and that’s when I figured out that (Andrews) has something in him, he’s special.

“And he doesn’t do us any good on the sidelines.”

Taggart said he felt that Andrews could be used in a similar manner to how Kentucky used Randall Cobb.

Andrews says he’s aware of how players like Cobb and others took the hybrid role and ran with it. But he was quick to point out that he’s not Randall Cobb or anyone else – he’s Antonio Andrews.

And he intends on making that known.

“They’re good examples,” he said. “I’m just trying to do it better.”

– Taggart said Tuesday that WKU president Gary Ransdell made a visit to practice recently and followed the example originally set by Patrick Reynolds earlier this month.

Shortly after fall camp began, Reynolds – a member of the 2002 1-AA national title team – spoke to the team following a workout, and said that he would be leaving his championship ring at WKU until the Hilltoppers won a Sun Belt title.

Reynolds urged other former players to do the same, and Taggart – an assistant on that team – followed suit.

And now, Taggart says, so has Ransdell.

“That was huge, I was shocked, but I loved it,” Taggart said. “There are a lot of people counting on us and that want this football team to do well and expect great things from us. And they’re starting to understand that – the president comes and gives up his ring and says he wants his ring back, and quick.

“That means it’s time to get to work.”

Taggart also said that legendary coach Jimmy Feix made a visit to practice Sunday, a moment that was special for all involved.

“We just wanted him to tell the guys what WKU is all about and about the tradition,” he said. “He told them he was proud of them, that he’d be following them and that winning isn’t new around here.

“He’s the definition of blue-collar – that’s what he was. It was good for our team to see that, and it was great. Our guys hear about coach Feix, but for a lot of guys it was their first time to see him. He was going to speak to the team last year, but got sick. So it was good for them to meet him and see the guy that the field’s named after.”

Taggart also said that the team would begin introducing Kentucky packages this week.

Nothing too complex, but a few looks here and there to begin preparation for the season opener on Sept. 1.

“We’ll just have a few periods this week to introduce UK’s offense, defense and special teams to them,” Taggart said. “Just to put it into their heads a little.”

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