Football notebook: Six Toppers earn captain honors

Coach Bobby Petrino (second from left) watches his team during practice at Smith Stadium on Monday, August 5. (Shelby Mack / Herald)

Lucas Aulbach

Three WKU seniors and three juniors were selected by their teammates this summer to lead the Toppers during the 2013-14 season.

Senior running back Antonio Andrews, senior offensive lineman Luis Polanco, junior quarterback Brandon Doughty, senior linebacker Andrew Jackson, junior defensive back Cam Thomas and junior defensive back Jonathan Dowling have been named as captains for WKU this season.

Doughty said he was especially touched by the gesture. Doughty was put in as a starter against Indiana State in 2011 before tearing his anterior cruciate ligament later in the game. He missed the rest of the 2011-12 season and played in one game last year.

“Words can’t express how blessed I am,” he said. “After coming through the ACL and stuff and being in my real low point, actually getting some confidence back from my teammates and showing that my teammates really have my back, that’s the biggest thing. It’s awesome, just an unbelievable experience.”

Jackson, who led WKU in tackles last season, has been a quiet leader for the Topper defense in the past, but this is his first year being named a captain of the team.

He said it was an honor to be chosen by his teammates.

“It’s an honor to me – 100 different guys chose me to lead the team on the defensive side of the ball,” Jackson said. “I just feel like it’s a big opportunity to show that I can lead positively and set a perfect example of how to play football.”

Petrino wants more from quarterbacks

Coach Bobby Petrino said he was impressed by several things he saw on the field on Monday, but quarterback play was an area he definitely hopes to see improvement in.

Doughty and redshirt sophomore DaMarcus Smith each took reps at quarterback with the veterans Monday evening, while freshmen Nelson Fishback and Todd Porter took snaps with the newcomers in the earlier practice.

Petrino said its hard to judge how they fared against each other since they weren’t on the field at the same time, but he wants to see more from all of them.

“I’m not real happy overall with the quarterbacks, I expect them to be better than that,” the coach said. “We missed some throws, we had a couple reads that we were behind on, but they’ll continue to get better. That’s a hard position to play, particularly when you throw a lot at them in one practice.”

Doughty said all of the quarterbacks struggled but he expects them to improve as Fall Camp progresses.

“It was just kind of dusting off some rust,” he said. “We weren’t really in a team setting much this summer with voluntary stuff. We’ve got to work on it, we’ll watch this film tonight and well get better.”

Petrino pleased with newcomers

Petrino and the WKU coaches are holding an extra practice session for players that are new to the program this week early in the afternoon, and the coach said he was pleased with what he saw on Monday from several of his first-year players.

He said one of the big challenges many young college players face is how they take in coaching.

“A lot of times when you’re the best player on your team in high school the coaches are coaching everybody else on the team to try to help them play like you do,” Petrino said. “Some of them aren’t used to getting coached hard on every play, so they need to make some adjustments and get used to that.”

The coach said he was impressed with what he saw from his two first-year quarterbacks, Fishback and Porter, and the most impressive young player was freshman wide receiver Taywan Taylor.

Jackson thinking about present, not future

Senior linebacker Andrew Jackson is considered to be one of the top NFL prospects on WKU’s roster this season.

Jackson has led the Toppers in tackles the last two seasons and was named the Sun Belt Conference Preseason Defensive Player of the Year recently.

Despite the hype, though, Jackson said his No.1 priority is leading WKU to as many wins as he can this season.

“I can’t worry about that – if I worry about that, I might take a step back on the football field or something,” he said about his pro potential. “I’m just trying to get through this season and help lead the Tops to another bowl game.”

How many wins can WKU pick up this season is a question on the minds of WKU fans, but Jackson said he has high expectations for his team.

“I’m up to the challenge – 12-0 season, I’m ready,” he said.