WKU football takes a break halfway through the season

Elliott Pratt

Thursday night’s 31-10 win at Louisiana-Monroe was WKU’s sixth game in 34 days. The Toppers now have a little break before next week’s Tuesday matchup with the other Sun Belt Conference team from the Bayou, Louisiana-Lafayette.

Those two games are 12 days apart, which provides for some much-needed rest and recovery for the WKU football team.

“We deserve a break,” coach Bobby Petrino said after the teams’ win Thursday night. “It’s time to get a little rest, get rejuvenated, come back, work hard and get our game plan and get going.”

A skewed game schedule provides for some changes in the teams’ preparations as well. Petrino said the team will treat Tuesday and Wednesday as a lighter practice where the team will “work on technique, fundamentals.” The Toppers will treat Friday as the start of a normal week to prepare for ULL.

At the season’s halfway point, the Toppers find themselves at 4-2 overall and 1-1 in the conference — a far cry from where the coach would like his team to be.

“The things we are going to continue to focus on are continuing to get better at our technique and fundamentals, get better on our assignments and doing things right, particularly when we are tired,” Petrino said. “Offensively, taking care of the ball, which we have improved on but we are not where we need to be. Defensively, we have done a good job at stopping big plays and creating turnovers.”

Playing on a Tuesday serves different obstacles for any team used to playing on Saturdays. ULL coach Mark Hudspeth the schedule gets “complicated” when planning a schedule around a Tuesday game.

But the team is thankful for the days off. Senior offensive lineman Ed Hazelett said the Toppers need to use the break to recover after the hectic start to the year.

“I mean, it’s very important,” Hazelett said. “We really didn’t get days off last week. We kind of were grinding six days straight. This down time is really doing good to our bodies.”

Petrino said he actually likes playing games in different days throughout the week and that everyone just has set their clocks “so it will end up being a Saturday game” for the team.

If for any other reason the coaches like the schedule, it’s for recruiting. Next Tuesday’s game against the Ragin’ Cajuns will be WKU’s Black Out game and will air on ESPN2.

“I think it helps us a lot,” Petrino said. “A lot of the recruits watch the mid-week games. Last week when we played on Thursday, we met as a staff Wednesday night, made a ton of phone calls and got kids on the phone to remind them we were playing the next night. I think it’s great and it will help us build our program.”

WKU will look to knock off the Ragin’ Cajuns’ three-game win streak and first place conference spot Tuesday. ULL ranks first in the conference in scoring, averaging 38 points per game. Both WKU and ULL rank as the top offenses in the league, providing for what Petrino said will be a great challenge to start the teams’ two-game home stand.

“They’re a very, very good football team, very talented with a lot of good players and great schemes,” Petrino said. “We’re just going to prepare for that and be happy that we’re back at home.”