Notebook: Fundamentals key to WKU’s win over FAU

Brad Stephens

WKU was plagued by missed tackles and turnovers in getting out to a 0-4 start this season.

The Toppers’ 20-0 win over Florida Atlantic Saturday made those troubles seem far in the past.

WKU didn’t register a turnover and held FAU to just 25 yards rushing in the victory.

“If you think about those games that we lost, that was one of our Achilles heels was both missed tackles and turnovers,’ Head Coach Willie Taggart told WKU’s Big Red Radio Network following the win. “And we corrected that, and it’s good to see.”

Saturday’s game was a far cry for the one that was played a month from this Monday, when Indiana State thumped WKU 44-16 at Smith Stadium.

That day the Toppers turned the ball over four times and allowed Sycamores running back Shakir Bell to go for 227 yards, many coming after contact.

“Not to live in the past, but after that Indiana State game one thing we did was go in and watch the entire film as a group,” Taggart said. “And we said no more finger pointing. We were going to go out and play for each other every game. And you see our guys are doing that now.”

Happy homecoming for many Toppers

Many WKU players got to show off in front of friends and family Saturday.

Thirty-three Topper players hail from Florida, and many had large contingencies of friends and families who traveled down to Boca Raton for the game.

Taggart, a Palmetto, Fla., product, said he also had a big group of loved one present to watch WKU defeat FAU.

“It was nice getting to see my family and see our guys seeing some of their family,” Taggart said. “And it was a good win for our Hilltopper family. It’s been awhile (2007) since we put together back-to-back wins, and hopefully this gives out fans and Hilltopper nation something to believe in.”

Slim production from wideouts

WKU won Saturday in spite of a lack of production from its receiving corps.

A four-yard catch from freshman wide receiver Boe Brand was the only reception for a Topper wideout for the entire game.

WKU receivers have just three catches in the Toppers’ past two games.

Making catches instead for WKU was junior tight end Jack Doyle (four for 36 yards) and senior running back Bobby Rainey (three for 45.)

“We’re playing some young guys and they’re learning to play football,” Taggart said of the receivers. “Once they learn to play football, we’ll be a lot better offensively.

“Right now we’re playing young guys and we have to manage that and find a way to make it easy for them. We’re going to get it corrected though.”

Other notes

  • Sophomore fullback Kadeem Jones left in the first half with a sprained ankle and didn’t return. Jones has accounted for four touchdowns this season. Sophomore Nick Baisch filled in for Jones, clearing the way on Rainey’s two touchdown runs.
  • Freshman running back John Evans tallied 58 punt return yards Saturday in his second consecutive week filling in for sophomore Antonio Andrews. Evans also had one run for 22 yards. Andrews was suspended for the FAU game because of inflammatory comments he made on Twitter about fans.
  • Sophomore running back Keshawn Simpson accumulated 31 yards on six carries. It was a career high for the former Madison Central High School standout.
  • Junior quarterback Kawaun Jakes completed 8 of 15 passes for 85 yards. He saw his career record as a starter improve to 4-21. Taggart’s record as head coach improved to 4-14.