With just a week until the annual spring game, Head Coach WIllie Taggart and his coaching staff are beginning to get the red and white teams together to prepare for the scrimmage.
The Toppers have a unique method of choosing the red and white teams for the scrimmage.
The coaches have the opportunity to pick up two “free-agent” WKU players for their team before the rest of the players are “drafted” to a team on Saturday.
Quarterbacks coach Nick Sheridan will coach the white team, while the defensive line coach Eric Mathies will coach the red team.
arterback Kawaun Jakes and junior linebacker Andrew Jackson for his free agents. The red team has yet to decide on their two choices.
Taggart said even though the teams are chosen in more of a pickup game style, players are still expected to take the game seriously.
“That film is going to get graded like the rest of them, and guys are going to get graded for a job,” he said. “They need to show up and show out and make things happen.”
Defense shooting for banner year
Last season, the WKU defense ranked near the top of the Sun Belt Conference in most statistical categories.
This year, the squad is shooting for a much bigger goal — national recognition.
“We’re trying to be ranked this year,” senior linebacker Tye Golden said. “We’re trying to be top five on defense, every category. Special teams, offense — we want to strive for the best.”
Junior linebacker Andrew Jackson will likely be a big factor for the Toppers if they hope to achieve their goal.
Jackson, who led WKU with 109 total tackles last season, said he’s going to try to get the whole linebacker corps better this year.
“This year, I’ve learned the defense — now I’m getting younger guys in place to make plays,” he said. “It ain’t about me anymore — it’s about all of us.”
Toppers looking to improve field goal percentage
Anyone who picked up a stat sheet last season could tell that the Toppers had one area where they absolutely needed to improve this year: kicking.
WKU hit just five of 20 field goal attempts last season, by far the worst rate in the Sun Belt.
The Toppers have four players taking field goal reps in practice this spring, and the starting job is up for grabs.
Special teams coordinator and former linebackers coach Karl Maslowski identified sophomore Jesse Roy and junior Monte Merrick as two players who have made significant improvements kicking this spring.
Maslowski said the kickers have hit around 77 percent of the field goals they’ve attempted this spring.
“Eighty percent is our goal,” he said. “We’re not quite there yet, and we’re going to keep working. Those kids are working their butts off, and Coach Taggart moved me over from linebackers to work just with them to fix the situation.”