Five observations from the first scrimmage of fall camp

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers quarterback Brandon Doughty (12) stands under center during the first half of Saturday’s game against Arkansas State. Western Kentucky lead 20-14 at the half.

Elliott Pratt

The WKU football team took part in its first fall scrimmage this afternoon at Smith Stadium. Practices for the remainder of the week will be open to the public with the opportunity to attend two-a-days.

Here are five things we learned from today’s scrimmage:

1.)    Turnovers continue to be an issue

Yes, it was the first team offense versus the second team defense, and vice versa, but turnovers were once again an issue on a few occasions today. Redshirt junior Nelson Fishback threw two interceptions to the short, left side of the field to Forrest Coleman with one of them returned for a touchdown.

Then after Brandon Doughty completed deep pass to Joel German for 50-plus yards, Taywan Taylor fumbled on the following play while completing a bubble screen pass with Rico Brown recovering the fumble.

“Turnovers is something that is going to hurt us,” coach Jeff Brohm said. “I thought we had too many turnovers with the second and third groups that is going to cost us the game, but you like when the defense is creating the turnovers. We have to take care of the ball. I thought we struggled at times going against the first defense with our second unit and we have to get better there.”

2.)    Youth getting experience early

Youth in a scheme isn’t subjective to only freshmen, but junior college players are learning a new system as well. A few players are catching the eyes of veteran cornerback Cam Thomas as those who can make an immediate impact against Bowling Green State Aug. 29.

“A lot of the young guys came in and stepped up. A lot of the guys got a lot of reps with the one’s and they did exceptionally well,” Thomas said. “I feel like Wonderful Terry and De’Andre Simmons are doing a great job. They’re both small corners but at the same time they play big. They have great footwork and great technique.

“They’re just getting better. Only time will tell, and I feel like they’re going to make a major impact when we put them in different spots and will definitely give me rest when I need it and the other corners. I’m very confident in their abilities.”

3.)    No huddle preparation

The Toppers will face the defending Mid-American Conference Champions Bowling Green State in their home opener on Aug. 29. The Falcons run an up-tempo, no huddle offense that can tire a defense in a hurry.

WKU has game planned for BGSU since the spring. When the first team defense took the field during Saturday’s scrimmage, the second unit offense ran no-huddle and hurry up and went three-and-out on their first drive.

“We’ve been working against it for all of fall camp,” defensive coordinator Nick Holt said. “Sometimes the tempos will slow down because they’re calling plays at the line of scrimmage, so you have time to get guys lined up. It is good work for us. Unfortunately, some of it is not football anymore. It’s as fast as you can go to mess up another guy. That’s the world we live in as defensive coaches and we need to be dang sure that we’re ready for this.”

4.)    Battle for backup

Leon Allen entered fall camp as the undisputed starting running back. Now the battle is between the running backs who will relieve Allen when need be.

The battle appears to come between redshirt sophomores Anthony “Ace” Wales and Darmontre Warr. The Toppers also have two freshmen running backs in Joe Brown and DeAndre Ferby.

Both Wales and Warr split time with the second team offense in today’s scrimmage.

“Ace is a guy that’s continued to improve. I thought he was shifty and gives you a different element in the backfield,” Brohm said. “He has to continue to increase his understanding of the offense but when he does that, he can be a productive player. Darmontre Warr is a guy that gives us great effort and once again, he’s got to continue as well.”

5.)    Quarterback development

The WKU offense belongs to Brandon Doughty. Along with Doughty, the Toppers return junior Nelson Fishback and sophomore Todd Porter. The team’s new additions at the position are junior college transfer Troy Jones, freshmen Drew Eckels and Alabama transfer Parker McCleod, who is ineligible for the 2014 season because of transfer rules.

Eckels and McCleod saw reps towards the end of the scrimmage with McCleod dropping in a pair of arcing touchdowns and Eckels tossing a score as well.

Doughty understands the position these quarterbacks are in with a complex scheme and says when he’s not the one throwing the ball in practice, he’s helping to lead his cohorts in his same direction.

“I’m definitely trying to coach them up,” Doughty said. “Those young guys are still trying to learn our scheme and learn everything and understand why we do things. That’s kind of the role I’ve taken on when those guys are in there. Just kind of teaching them and giving them any pointers I can.”