Football Notes: WKU’s Rainey named National Running Back of the Week

Senior running back Bobby Rainey runs for a touchdown during the third quarter of WKU’s 42-23 win over Louisiana-Lafayette Saturday night. It was WKU’s first home win since 2008.

Brad Stephens

Bobby Rainey’s mother, Janice,

celebrated a birthday Saturday.

Her son gave her his best

performance of the season, then brought home some hardware in the

following days.

Rainey was named the National

Running Back of the Week on Sunday by the College Football

Performance Awards.

He earned the honor after rushing

for 206 yards and three touchdowns in WKU’s 42-23 win over


Then on Monday, the senior running

back was named the Sun Belt Conference Offensive Player of the


Rainey credited his offensive line,

all of whom joined him on the media room podium following the


“They opened up the holes,” he said.

“The credit goes to these guys up front. They did their


The Topper offensive line had been

the subject of criticism early in the season, struggling to clear

running room and keep junior quarterback Kawaun Jakes upright in

the pocket.

But Saturday the line paved the way

for 234 rushing yards and didn’t give up a single sack.

“We had challenged those guys that

it was time to put it all together,” Taggart said Monday. “And

those guys came out and did it from the first play of the


Along with the CFPA and Sun Belt

awards, Rainey was given a helmet sticker on ESPN’s College Gameday

Final show Saturday night.

Taggart said the national attention

Rainey’s brought to WKU has been “vital for our


“Everything he’s done last year and

to this point has been nothing but positive for our program, for

our team now and recruiting,” Taggart said. “People are hearing

about Western Kentucky University now, and knowing who we are and

knowing who Bobby Rainey is.

“Hopefully a lot of high school

running backs are seeing Bobby Rainey and saying, ‘Hey, I can go

there and do the same thing.’”

Jakes fights through


Jakes put together his best

statistical game of the season Saturday against the Ragin’


The third-year starter went 15-of-18

for 242 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

Taggart, a former quarterback

himself, was impressed when he saw Jakes’ stat line.

“Look at Kawaun Jakes,” Taggart

said. “Wow.”

Jakes played what may have been the

most efficient game of his career while fighting through the pain

of a thigh bruise he sustained the prior week against Florida



But he said the

pain may have actually helped his performance by making him less

able to tuck and run, therefore increasing his


“I wasn’t looking to run the ball. I

was actually looking for a man down the field as I was trying to

scramble,” Jakes said. “So it did help and pay off a little


Big production from WKU

tight ends 

Taggart has expressed his love in

the past for tight ends, especially the versatile role they can

play in his West Coast-influenced system.

Saturday, junior Jack Doyle, sophomore Jim Murphree

and freshman Mitchell Henry all caught at least one pass from the

position, while junior Ryan Wallace also saw playing time.

Doyle led the Toppers in receiving,

catching seven balls for 106 yards.

Henry, a former Elizabethtown High

School standout, also had a memorable day, hauling in his first

career reception and first career touchdown.

“They’re like receivers to me, just

a bit bigger and stockier,” Jakes said. “Jack catches everything

and Mitch, he has hands as good as Jack. They’re just