Pratt: What we learned from WKU’s Spring Game

Redshirt sophomore defensive back Branden Leston (45) dodges a tackle by redshirt junior tight end Devin Scott (11) after intercepting a pass during the Red and White Spring Game Saturday, April 19, 2014, at Houchens Industries – L.T. Smith Stadium in Bowling Green, Ky. (Mike Clark/HERALD)

Elliott Pratt

A spring game is nothing more than a hyped up, main event intra-squad scrimmage to remind us that we’re still several months away from real football competition.

There’s not a whole lot a conclusions you can draw from a team that plays its starters against its back-ups, but that doesn’t stop us all from drawing those conclusions up anyways.

So when I watched a spring game that ended in a 58-10 final score, I, along with a lot of other people, can’t help but draw a few obvious conclusions.

1.)  This offense is established and 2.) This defense isn’t.

To quote Brandon Doughty from the spring game a year ago, he was “baking cakes” with 365 passing yards for four touchdowns, but that was expected. It’s also expected that Leon Allen is going to take full control of the backfield to replace Antonio Andrews. Anthony (Ace) Wales is going to provide that extra burst of speed alongside Allen for a potential “smash-and-dash” combo circa 2008 Chris Johnson and Lendale White style.

Doughty has a plethora of wide receivers to throw to that provide a variety of skill sets. Willie McNeal, Taywan Taylor and Nicholas Norris have the experience with Doughty while JUCO transfers Antwane Grant and Jared Dangerfield bring in extra size at the position, which the Toppers lacked last season.

“I think those guys are heck of playmakers,” Doughty said. “I think coach (Jeff) Brohm did a good job of bringing those guys in. I feel comfortable with those guys, even with the short time we’ve had together. This summer we’ll keep working at it and be even better, hopefully.”

Doughty also wants you to know he believes the Topper offense is “one of the best in the conference and the NCAA”, so there’s the confidence they’ll need for next season.

The offense is set, now on to the defense. What defense?

There was hardly any Saturday, and that’s what happens when starters are pitted against the benchwarmers.

But the reality is that this is a brittle defense with big shoes to fill. Replacing potential NFL linebackers like Andrew Jackson and Xavius Boyd isn’t easy. The Spring Game was without three crucial parts of the defense with Cam Thomas, Daquall Randall and Bryan Shorter all sidelined for much of spring camp.

There were some bright spots with big plays from the defense, but there are plenty of things to fix.

“We have some young guys, but we’ve played a lot of young guys that have gotten a ton of reps this spring,” Brohm said. “It hasn’t been like anybody’s been missing out. They’ve gotten a lot of reps. I think once we get a few key guys back that are missing now, we’ll be a little better.”

It’ll be a much clearer picture of what this defense is going to look like once those guys do get back. It’s easy to look at score like 58-10 and say something wasn’t right on one side of the ball, but if coaches were concerned with the score in a Spring Game, the attitude would be much different.

“We can definitely do better when we get some more guys that’s knicked up back,” senior linebacker Terran Williams said. “We have a couple injured guys and we’ll get Cam (Thomas) back, so it’ll be pretty good to see him get back out there and play, too. That’s what makes it better, to see how the younger dudes come out and respond with all the older guys like (Andrew) Jackson and all them leaving. I think they responded pretty well with the tempo and everything.”

So what we can conclude is that each side of the ball is quite a few pigskin stitches away from meeting up, but that’s what Spring Games are for – to remind us things aren’t done yet, and that we’re still several months away from actual football season.