WKU fans, coaches and players sat through a scary moment Saturday against Arkansas State when Antonio Andrews suffered a first-half ankle injury.
The sophomore running back, who has served as the primary backup for star senior Bobby Rainey, was pulled down awkwardly from behind after a four-yard carry, and didn’t re-enter the game.
Head Coach Willie Taggart said Andrews used a walking boot Sunday, but was out of the boot by Monday, and is listed as day-to-day.
“He’s a lot better today than he was Saturday,” Taggart said Monday. “But we’ve got some other guys back there — Keshwan Simpson, John Evans — that can get some carries and get the job done.”
Simpson doesn’t have a rushing attempt this season, while Evans has just one carry — a five-yard loss Sept. 16 against Indiana State.
While Taggart didn’t say for certain whether or not Andrews would play Thursday against Middle Tennessee State, he dropped a phrase that has become his slogan when discussing injuries.
“We heal a little different here at Western,” he said.
New weapons for WKU
Two Toppers not used to scoring much recently found the end zone against Arkansas State on Saturday.
Sophomore fullback Kadeem Jones capped off WKU’s opening drive with a two-yard touchdown run, his first rushing score of the year.
Jones, who also caught a touchdown against Indiana State, said he’s enjoyed making plays in the last two games, but that he knows his main responsibility is clearing space for Rainey in the running game.
“It’s always fun to get the ball, but I know my role is to block,” Jones said Monday. “I look at this way: I’m blocking for the best back in the conference. What other fullback can say that?”
Junior wide receiver Dexter Haynes also scored his first touchdown of 2011 Saturday, hauling in a score on a third quarter pass from Rainey.
After the Toppers’ leading receiver, junior Marcus Vasquez, went down with a torn anterior cruciate ligament against Indiana State, WKU needed to find someone to fill the void.
Taggart said an attitude change from Haynes put him in position to be a go-to target.
“Dexter just said he was going to be the guy everyone expected him to be and the guy he should be,” Taggart said. “We all knew Dexter was talented enough. He just wasn’t in the right frame of mind over the last few weeks — not practicing with a sense of urgency about things.
“Then, last week, he was excited about practice, about helping his team. He took pride in teammates telling him it was his time to step up.”
Arkansas State loss draws team closer
After looking void of emotion against Indiana State, Taggart said his team played with a much improved effort against the Red Wolves, coming up just short in notching their first win of the season.
He said the team was emotionally spent afterwards and that some players were even crying after the loss.
Jones said that even with the disappointing outcome, it was the type of hard-fought game that could help bring the team together.
“I think it brought the guys a little bit closer,” he said. “Seeing everybody fight so hard together to get a win and then we lost and to see the emotions, we believe in each other. That will make us better as a team.”