Toppers trying to keep ‘Freddie Soft’ out of practice

Senior defensive lineman Quanterus Smith wipes his face during spring practice at Smith Stadium on Monday morning.

Lucas Aulbach

After the Toppers took part in their first full scrimmage of the spring season on Saturday, Head Coach Willie Taggart urged his defense to bring more energy to practice in the next two weeks.

When the defense bounced back and disrupting the offense all morning on Monday, he said they were successful because something — or someone — was missing.

“I thought on Saturday ‘Freddie Soft’ came out and grabbed them by the neck and told them not to practice,” Taggart said, referring to the imaginary being that sometimes slows the Toppers down in practice. “Today we had everybody at every corner in here to make sure Freddie didn’t sneak in here. I think he snuck into someone’s backpack on offense.”

Taggart had been high on the defense for most of the spring up until Saturday, and even the players were disappointed with their play over the weekend.

Junior defensive back Arius Wright said the defense “took a step back” at the scrimmage.

“We didn’t really play with too much enthusiasm,” he said. “We didn’t play with too much energy. We’re normally a high-energy defense — flying around, not letting the offense break tackles and all of that stuff.”

The mood was a little different after practice Monday morning. Senior defensive lineman Jamarcus Allen said the Topper defense was able to get back on track.

“Our goal is to be nationally ranked on defense and everything we do on the field, so we’re just one step closer to our goal,” he said.

Allen gave credit to the offense for their performance at the scrimmage and said on Monday that the defense was looking to respond.

“We hate to lose, and the offense did a good job (on Saturday), so we wanted to have a high-energy practice today, and that’s what we did,” he said.

On Saturday the WKU quarterbacks, senior Kawaun Jakes and redshirt freshman James Mauro, each threw for over 100 yards and a touchdown, and junior running back Keshawn Simpson had 68 rushing yards in 11 carries.

But Taggart said “Freddie Soft” must have been acting on his offense on Monday.

“Saturday was probably our best day pass-protecting, and we came out here today and acted like we never did it before, so we’ll go back and watch the film and get some of those things corrected,” he said. “We’ve just got to be more consistent.”

WKU will have to get consistent in a hurry. There are just five more practices before the spring game on April 14 brings the spring practice period to a close.

Taggart said with just a few practices left before the spring game, players are more likely to lose their energy and motivation at this time of the year.

He urged his team to keep a familiar foe from coming back.

“We’ve got to keep ‘Freddie Soft’ from around here,” Taggart said. “This is the time of spring when ‘Freddie’ comes in — after you’ve had so many practices, and he says, ‘All right — enough is enough,’ and starts talking to guys. We’ve got to thump ‘Freddie’ off the shoulder and keep him away from here.”