Toppers head into final week of spring practice

Mike Clark/HERALD

Kyle Williams

The WKU football team scrimmaged for the third time this spring to close out its third week of spring practice before the annual Red and White game on Saturday at 1:00 p.m. in Smith Stadium.

The team will hold two more public practices on Wednesday and Thursday of next week at 4:00 p.m.

 Coach Jeff Brohm got a glimpse of the team’s potential during its final spring scrimmage and according to him progress has been made.

“I thought we had some big plays on both sides of the ball,” Brohm said. “Offense had some big plays, some big scores. Long-play touchdowns are what you need. We needed to develop some playmakers, so it was good to see that.

“Defensively, we got a few turnovers and a few turnovers for touchdowns. So that’s big. If the defense is scoring and if we’re making big plays on offense, I think we’re making strides.”

Secondary filling in nicely

WKU will be thinner in the secondary this season having lost graduated seniors Arius Wright and Tyree Robinson, who combined for five interceptions last season. The team also lost Jonathan Dowling, who recorded three interceptions in the 2013 season, after he chose to forgo his senior season and enter the 2014 NFL Draft.

However, the Toppers return the Sun Belt’s leader in interceptions last season, senior defensive back Cam Thomas as well as redshirt senior defensive backs Rico Brown and Ricardo Singh.

According to defensive backs coach Mike Cassity, many seniors on the roster will be counted on to fill the voids in the secondary.

“We bring back an all-conference cornerback and there are some other seniors and it’s their turn to perform,” Cassity said. “We expect them to step up and be the guys.

“So far, we still have a lot of work to do, but I’ve been pleased with where they are at this point.”

Tight ends making smooth transition

WKU returns a trio of tight ends that combined for 55 receptions and 646 yards last season in senior Mitchell Henry, redshirt junior Tim Gorski and redshirt junior Tyler Higbee.

Tight ends coach Ryan Wallace, who completed his career as a WKU tight end in 2012, said it has been a smooth adjustment coaching the players he used to line up next to.

“It was a pretty good adjustment coming back and coaching guys I played with,” Wallace said. “They’ve all really accepted it. It’s a completely different relationship. I’ve come into a group of quality guys. On and off the field, they do everything right.”

Red zone key

After a 2013 season that was riddled with red zone turnovers, the Toppers have keyed in on red zone opportunities throughout spring practice.

Despite a rough season last year where WKU only scored touchdowns on 39 of their 64 redzone attempts, offensive coordinator Tyson Helton said the team is responding well thus far during spring ball.

“We focus on it every day,” Helton said. “When we do seven-on-seven skelly, we’re always doing red zone…we’re down there, last plays of the game — working on those scenarios. So it’s something we do every day. It’s a point of emphasis for us. The guys have done a tremendous job with it.”