Field goal in spring game gives Toppers hope for future


Senior offensive lineman Adam Smith cringes in pain after a minor injury during the Red vs White spring football game at Houchens-Smith Stadium Saturday evening. Red won 16-10.

Lucas Aulbach

It may not have seemed like much, but sophomore kicker Jesse Roy made one of the biggest plays of the spring game on Saturday when he nailed a 49-yard field goal for the red team in the second quarter.

The play was so big, a potential penalty was waved off by the game’s “commissioner,” Head Coach Willie Taggart.


He joked after the game once the field goal went through the uprights, he was so pleased he almost called the game.

“I started to stop the scrimmage after that. ‘We’re done. Work is done today,’” Taggart said laughing. “It’s good to see. It’s good for those guys to get some confidence, especially at the end of spring, to have a lot of confidence going into summer and throughout workouts as they enter training camp.”

Field goal kicking is an area the Toppers know they have to improve in. The team hit only five of 20 attempted field goals last season.

WKU is more set punting the ball. Junior kickers Kevin Carrillo and Hendrix Brakefield each averaged more than 35 yards per punt on Saturday.

Taggart said he hopes to see more improvement from his kickers before the start of the regular season.

“We’ve got to keep working, especially at that position,” he said. “We need that position to step up big time for us. For us to what we wanna do as a football team, we need for that position to step up.”

Sack-tastic defense disrupts quarterback play

Redshirt freshman quarterback James Mauro had a good showing on Saturday in his first game in front of WKU fans, but one number jumps out on his stat line — he was sacked a total of seven times.

The white squad defense had seven sacks and the red team added three more to make up a total of 10 sacks on Saturday.

The constant pressure contributed to a lot of the mistakes of both Mauro and senior quarterback Kawaun Jakes, who was under center for the white team, Taggart said, and he thinks his pass rushers are only going to get better.

“Those guys are really athletic and have a lot of speed off the edge. I think that’s gonna help us come the fall,” he said. “I think they gotta get a little bit bigger and stronger this fall, but it’s good to see we got some young guys that can fly around and make plays like that.”

Toppers hoping to keep momentum in the classroom

After hitting the field for the last time on Saturday night, Taggart hopes his team will hit the books in the next few weeks to finish up this semester.

With the spring practice period over, the Toppers will now have a much more limited practice schedule until the summer, clearing time for them to focus on academics.

“Coach (Duane) Hall will get our guys in the weight room and then we’ll have a period where we can’t do anything with them so they can lock in really to academics,” Taggart said. “Then they’ll have some down time in May – come June we’re back it. We’ll be full ‘go’ and we’ll have all our freshman here, too, going to summer school and working out and getting prepared for the fall.”

Taggart and his coaching staff also plan to hold evaluation meetings with every player on his team in the next week, before the Toppers hit the recruiting trail once again.

“I meet with every last one of those guys throughout the week and talk about everything from football to academics and health,” he said. Then, the coaches are out on the road recruiting trying to get more good players in here so we can keep this thing rolling.”