Football notebook: Doughty leading Topper quarterbacks

Elliott Pratt

WKU will have one more week of practice before next Saturday’s spring game that is set for 2:00 p.m.

The team wrapped up its second full scrimmage Saturday and roles are starting to fill.

Offensive coordinator Jeff Brohm and defensive coordinator Nick Holt gave mention to a few players that are making big strides on the field, including a probable starter for the quarterback position.

Much of the concern from the WKU football team is the question of who will lead in the running for the starting quarterback job exiting the spring schedule. Coach Bobby Petrino said last week that a decision would not be made until there had to be one.

However, the reps that junior Brandon Doughty is receiving in practice indicate he could be the front runner for the starting job.

“He’s ahead mainly on the fact that he understands what he’s doing more and has been able to pick it up quicker and do a better job of executing,” Petrino said. “Not only the passing game, but the running game.”

Doughty finished Saturday’s scrimmage with 28-of-39 completions for 316 yards and three touchdowns.

Brohm said Doughty has many strides to make on the field, but says the junior knows how to make something out of nothing.

“We’re trying to split the reps evenly, but he’s a guy that can make some plays for. He has to try and be consistent, take care of the ball and keep us in positive plays,” Brohm said. “It’s something that he’s working hard on and making progress.”

Standouts on defense beginning to show

Defensive coordinator Nick Holt said this week’s practice was the best they have had all year, but also stated that the team still has a long ways to go.

The defense picked off the Topper offense three times in Saturday’s scrimmage, including a 35-yard pick-six by senior defensive back Arius Wright coming off a pass from Doughty.

Holt gave special praise to the defensive linemen for stepping up their game to bring energy to the defensive front.

“Raphael (Cox). No. 95 has had a good week of practice and he’s really solidified some things in there at defensive end and has created some depth,” Holt said. “I am really happy with his progress. He has a ways to go, but we are trying to find positives, and he has been a positive.”

Improvements in the defensive line are a relief to Holt, saying having a solid pass rushing threat is crucial in the conference.

“I see some improvement up front and, boy, we need those guys to come through, because we need to find some pass rushers,” Holt said. “Especially in this conference we’re in and the couple of the teams that we’re playing.”

Running backs shine is scrimmage

In this new passing style of offense, there is still room for the run game to make an effective impact.

Saturday, the running back trio of senior Antonio Andrews, senior Keshawn Simpson and sophomore Leon Allen combined for 280 yards on 49 carries.

Andrews was the standout. He had 180 yards on 23 carries and four touchdowns, one of which came from a 63-yard scamper.

Brohm said the talented backfield will be essential in executing the offense, and said they have to work on getting the ball to Andrews.

“I think obviously we have a very good running back who has done a tremendous job up to this point,” Brohm said. “He’s learning a new offense, but he’s a guy that we’ve got to get the ball in his hands.

“We’re making progress, we’re finding backups to him – Leon Allen, Keyshawn (Simpson) have stepped up as guys that can run the ball and you always need more than one. So those are key guys.”

Andrews said he feels that he and his fellow running backs provide dependability to the team, but understands the offense will not use trio in the same manner they were recruited for.

I feel like we’re the strength of the team,” Andrews said. “When coach Taggart was here, he recruited a whole bunch of running backs and now with this offensive change, they don’t really use as many running backs.

“At the same time we still have that 1-2-3 punch that we always had. It’s always a good positive to have in this new offense.”