Football notebook: Toppers moving on from Alabama loss

WKU running back Kadeem Jones turns upfeild during their game against Alabama.

Lucas Aulbach

A loss to the No. 1 team in the country can’t be considered a total surprise. Despite the turnovers and other problems WKU exhibited, the Toppers were able to move the ball for much of the game and showed potential on defense.

Those positives make the loss hurt that much more, coach Willie Taggart said.

“I think we have a really good football team but we can be really bad if we put it on the ground,” he said. “I’m excited about our football team.

“I think we can learn from these mistakes. Bottom line, we just weren’t fundamentally sound and that’s something we constantly preach around here.”

One big positive for WKU was senior defensive end Quanterus Smith, who had three sacks in his first game since last season.

Taggart said people who watched Smith face off against the lauded Alabama offensive line saw a matchup between two elites.

“I think ‘Q’ Smith is one of the better defensive ends in the country,” the coach said. “I think that’s what we saw, one of the better defensive ends in the country going against one of the better offensive tackles (D.J. Fluker) in the country. ‘Q’ got the best of him that day.”

His marquee performance might have put him on the NFL Draft scouting map, but Smith said he’s not worried about teams making it a priority to shut him down.

“I can’t really worry about that,” he said. “I just have to watch this film, put on the film against their last opponent and go from there. Whatever they throw in front of me, I’ll have to deal with it.”

WKU’s next opponent, Kentucky (1-1), opened its season with a loss at Louisville before rolling to a home win over Kent State on Saturday.

Taggart has faced the Wildcats twice in his three years at WKU and has yet to get a win. He said the Toppers will have to work hard to get their first win over the Wildcats.

“We’re going to prepare like we did last week and try and go out and give it our best,” he said. “We’ve got to go play our best football game, no matter who it is we’re playing. Last week we didn’t do that.”

Despite their reputation as one of the weaker teams in the Southeastern Conference, senior tight end Jack Doyle said it would be a bad idea for anyone to overlook the Wildcats.

“They’re an SEC team, people can’t forget that,” he said. “They’ve got some really good guys that can run so we have to really be on point if we want a chance to win this game.”

Taggart, others tired of seeing blue on campus

Coach Willie Taggart isn’t a Kentucky fan, and he’s tired of seeing Kentucky fans on campus.

The coach said on Monday that he doesn’t understand WKU students supporting the Wildcats this week.

“You wear another school’s shirt, jersey, whatever it is — you don’t go to school there,” he said. “That makes no sense at all.”

The Toppers, fresh off of a 35-0 loss to Alabama, take on Kentucky this Saturday at Commonwealth Stadium in Lexington.

Doyle, a big part of the WKU offense over the weekend, said seeing blue on campus on game week bothers him.

“Why would you do that?” Doyle asked on Monday. “You go to school here we expect you to come to games here, so yeah, I think it’s definitely a sign of disrespect to wear UK stuff.”

Doyle has had to deal with Kentucky fans on campus before. The senior has faced the Wildcats twice already in his WKU career and he said the Toppers know how to deal with their supporters on game week.

“I know last spring we got known for booing a girl out of Fresh Foods, so I’m sure you can expect some of that going on this week,” Doyle said.

Doyle, Smith recognized for performances

They may have come home with a loss, but the efforts Doyle and Smith put forward against Alabama earned them recognition from the national media.

The two Toppers picked up honorable mention Performer-of-the-Week honors at their positions from the College Football Performance Awards.

Doyle caught seven catches for 45 yards and Smith, in his first game of the season, had a career-high three sacks for a total of 27 yards. The defensive end also forced one fumble, though it was recovered by the Crimson Tide.

Both players are seniors and are important parts of the WKU starting lineup.