Football notebook: Changes coming to kickoff coverage team

Lucas Aulbach

The winning score of Thursday’s game against Middle Tennessee didn’t come on offense or defense.

The Blue Raiders scored the last and crucial touchdown on a kickoff return with six minutes left in the fourth quarter to take a seven-point lead. The ensuing drive by WKU ended with a red-zone interception to seal the game for MTSU.

Coach Willie Taggart said he does not plan to use the same lineup for kickoff coverage against Florida Atlantic on Saturday.

“We’ve seen that movie,” he said at his weekly media luncheon on Monday. “We aren’t going to watch that movie again. We know the outcome of that one.”

MTSU returner Reggie Whatley fielded the kick at the four-yard line. He ran into coverage at the 20 before cutting left and taking the ball 80 more yards for a 96-yard scoring return.

Taggart said there were severe coverage lapses by the Toppers which led to the score.

“The sad thing about that return is they weren’t even planning on returning the ball that way,” he said/ “The returner just decided he was going to go that way because our guy wasn’t doing what he was supposed to and it cost us.”

Taggart said he is determined to find someone on his team this week who will get the job done in the future.

“We’re going to find a way and make sure we get someone to do exactly what we tell them to do and make sure that doesn’t happen again to the Tops,” he said.

Taggart responds to dismissal of Kentucky coach

WKU’s overtime win over Kentucky on Sept. 15 was the beginning of the end for UK coach Joker Phillips.

The loss was the first of an ongoing streak of eight losses by the Wildcats. UK Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart announced on Sunday that Phillips will not return as coach next season.

Taggart said he feels for his fellow coach’s plight.

“I wish him well,” he said. “It’s sad – you don’t want anybody to get fired. I wish him well.”

Phillips took over at UK in 2010, the same season Taggart became coach at WKU.

Taggart said every situation is different, but he feels Philips may not have had enough time as coach to turn the program around.

“I think a lot of it has to do with what you inherited and where you’re program is and the progression you make,” he said. “I think if you’re building a program, it’s going to take three or four years to get your guys in and get them to understand your system and the way you want to do things.”

Toppers have a ball with Home Run Derby

Seeking to take his teams minds off of the tough loss the night before, Taggart took the Toppers to the baseball field on Friday to participate in a ‘Home Run Derby.’

Junior defensive back Vince Williams and junior fullback Courtney Dalcourt won the friendly competition.

Senior tight end Jack Doyle leads the Toppers in receptions this season, but he said he didn’t have quite the same luck on the diamond.

“I hit a couple of doubles, I think,” Doyle said. “It’s been a long time.”

Taggart wasn’t out scouting for the baseball team, though – he had football in mind.

He said he was worried his team wasn’t having fun anymore and his motives were to relieve his team of some of the stress that had come with their past two losses – an overtime loss to Louisiana-Monroe and Thursday’s loss against MTSU.

“We’re going to get back to having fun, so we felt like going over there Friday,” he said. “We wanted to go back and have fun and get back to that, so that’s what we did.”