Football notes: WKU offense outplays defense at Wednesday scrimmage

Brad Stephens

WKU’s defense was without its two best playmakers, linebacker Andrew Jackson and safety Jonathan Dowling, in the Toppers’ intrasquad scrimmage on Wednesday.

As Jackson nursed a neck stinger and Dowling a concussion, coach Willie Taggart said he expected other players to step up in their absence.

Too many missed tackles hurt the WKU defense, Taggart said.

“I thought overall as a defense we did a poor job of tackling,” Taggart said. “We just missed so many tackles — that was discouraging.”

While the defense struggled, quarterback Kawaun Jakes and the passing game took advantage.

Taggart said Jakes looked “fantastic,” and said he was also impressed with receivers Joel German, Austin Aikens and Boe Brand.

“Our receivers did a great job catching the ball,” Taggart said. “We had some guys making some big-time catches for us now and that’s exciting to see.”

Meanwhile the running backs continued their competition for the starting spot.

Junior Antonio Andrews, one of the candidates, said he, fellow junior Keshawn Simpson and freshman Leon Allen all had strong days.

“You know we’re deep at running back so everybody tried to come out here and contribute the best way they could,” Andrews said. “Altogether we had a good day, offense probably dominated yesterday, I feel like. It was a good day.”

The scrimmage came just two and a half weeks from WKU’s season opener on Sept. 1 against Austin Peay.

Senior cornerback Jamal Forrest said that as Opening Day gets closer, competition in scrimmages has become more urgent.

“A scrimmage now is like the last game of the season,” Forrest said. “You want to give it all.”

Topper Air Force takes flight

The running back battle has gotten most of the attention this offseason, but battles for reps at defensive back has been just as fierce.

Forrest, Tyree Robinson, Arius Wright, Dowling, Kareem Peterson, Kiante Young and others have all been vying for time in the secondary.

And while the DBs are competing with each other, they’ve come together to nickname themselves “The Air Force.”

“We’re controlling everything,” Forrest said. “One of our main things this year is to be Top 10 in the nation in interceptions and also to have — I don’t want to say more tackles than the rest of the defense — but to be up in the same columns of high tackles as the rest of the defense.”

On the injury front

-Jackson returned to practice on Thursday morning after sitting out most of the week with a neck stinger.

-Dowling sustained a concussion on Tuesday and sat out both Wednesday and Thursday.

-Fullback Nick Baisch spent Thursday’s practice rehabbing a hamstring injury. Taggart said Baisch has been dealing with the injury for awhile now.

-Linebacker Mike Federspiel sustained a torn labrum earlier in the week. The injury will require surgery, Taggart said.