Football notebook: Jackson delivers on “hit ’em in the mouth” promise

WKU senior defensive back Tyree Robinson (22), senior linebacker Andrew Jackson (4) and senior linebacker Xavier Boyd (13) all watch a replay of a Kentucky touchdown on the jumbotron in the fourth quarter of their game at LP Field in Nashville,Tn.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Andrew Jackson said during the middle of last week that WKU was “gonna hit ‘em in the mouth and get it over with.”

Jackson held true to his word on one play that brought the red clad faithful to their feet.

It was a play that resembled the famous hit that South Carolina All-American defensive end Jadeveon Clowney delivered to Michigan running back Vincent Smith in the  Outback Bowl last season. With Jackson there was no helmet to fly 10 yards behind his victim Jonathan George and there was no forced fumble recovery to go along with it, but the impact was there.

Linebacker Xavius Boyd said the play executed perfectly.

“We were supposed to originally go up the middle and the center didn’t see him at all and he went right past him,” Boyd said. “It was almost like a truck hit.”

Coach Bobby Petrino didn’t even witness what all the fuss was about.

“I didn’t see it,” Petrino said. “I was talking to coach (Jeff) Brohm. Then all I heard was, ‘Get him off the field,’ so he must have made a good hit. That’s all I know.”

Toppers adjust after early defensive struggles

WKU prepared for two quarterbacks, but the defensive front showed its youth and that it still may have a long way to go. But the result of the Kentucky run game was a tale of two halves.

In the first half alone, Kentucky racked up 174 yards on the ground courtesy of quarterback Jalen Whitlow and Raymond Sanders.

In the second half, the Wildcats only gained 42 yards on the ground.

Coach Petrino said Kentucky’s ability to run around the edge was what hurt the team in the first half.

“It was the quarterback run and then the jet sweep that they were running that were a couple of things that hurt us,” Petrino said. “I felt like we were doing a really good job on our pass coverage and that we had to defend the run into the boundary. Coach (Nick) Holt and his staff did a nice job with that.”

Topper running backs split carries

Last season the WKU running game might as well have been called the Antonio Andrews Show — the then-junior running back rushed for over 1,700 yards and was named the Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year.

The Toppers thrived with the run in the win over Kentucky on Saturday, but a couple of other faces were key for WKU.

Andrews got the start for the Toppers and picked up 99 total yards and a touchdown. But he was benched for part of the second half after a pair of crucial fumbles.

Sophomore running back Leon Allen picked up the slack in the third quarter, rushing for 92 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries. Senior running back Leon Allen also contributed 34 yards and two touchdowns.

Petrino said the running game is WKU’s biggest strength on offense thanks to the depth of the group.

“One of the luxuries that we have is that Leon is big and physical,” he said. “Keshawn Simpson is big and physical. When teams get tired in the second half and you give a change of pace to them and they are harder to tackle. Leon got hot and when he got hot, we just kept feeding him the ball.”