Football notebook: Bowl talk will have to wait another week

Lucas Aulbach

The postseason looms, but right now WKU is trying to focus on the present.

Coach Willie Taggart said the Toppers are more focused on getting a win this Saturday than on getting a postseason win.

“We’ve got other issues than a bowl,” he said at his weekly media luncheon Monday. “We’ve just got to play ball and get better at what we do and all that other stuff will take care of itself.”

Riding a three-game losing streak, WKU (6-5, 3-4 Sun Belt Conference) is bowl eligible but will likely need another win in its final game this Saturday to garner serious buzz for a potential bowl berth.

Even that may not be enough — a 7-5 WKU team was shut out from the postseason last year.

Taggart said his team hasn’t forgotten last season’s snub but can’t be worried about it happening again this year until they get that seventh win.

“We still have a chance to do something special in this program and be a first in this program and can make up for some of these bad games that we’ve had here lately,” he said.

Despite the lack of momentum, the Toppers still have a strong chance of earning a bowl berth if they can get a win over North Texas on Saturday.

There are 63 schools, including WKU, that have reached the six-win bowl eligibility threshold and can be chosen for one of the 70 total bowl berths. There are 15 more teams that still have a chance to become eligible as the regular season comes to a close.

Taggart said the Toppers are planning on playing in the postseason.

“We’re not planning on packing our bags and putting our helmets up — not right now,” he said. “We’re planning on going out and taking care of business on Saturday and see where it takes us.”

WKU, North Texas common enemies

The Toppers will face a team much like themselves on Saturday when North Texas comes to Bowling Green.

UNT (4-7, 3-4 SBC) runs a similar offense to that of WKU — both usually rely on the run game to pick up yards and play physical.

Senior defensive tackle Kenny Martin said the Topper defense should benefit from playing against an offense so similar to the one they practice against every week.

He described the offensive style in one word — power.

“In other words, this week we’re going to have to grind it out in practice,” Martin said.

Taggart said the style of offense won’t decide who wins or loses on Saturday as much as which team plays with greater effort.

“No matter what you’ve seen, if you don’t go out and play with great effort and great technique and great fundamentals, it’s not going to matter,” he said.

Missed tackles mean missed opportunities for Toppers

Taggart was exact on Monday when he talked about how many tackles his defense missed in WKU’s 31-27 loss to Louisiana-Lafayette over the weekend.

“Twenty five — we had 25 missed tackles and out of those 25 missed tackles, they had 223 yards off of that,” he said. “So that was bad. That was really bad.”

Those 223 yards were a significant chunk of ULL’s 582 yards of total offense on Saturday.

Taggart said his team’s biggest problem was not getting enough defenders trying to tackle the ball-carrier.

“It’s really hard to make tackles in open spaces nowadays, and a lot of times you can help yourself when you got guys running to the ball so if that guy does miss a tackle, you’ve got guys rallying to make up,” he said. “We didn’t have enough guys getting to the ball.”