Football notes: Toppers’ kicking woes continue

Brad Stephens

Willie Taggart is hoping for some divine intervention to help his team’s kicking game.

The Toppers’ head coach has seen the combination of senior Casey Tinius, sophomore Monte Merrick and freshman Jesse Roy go just 2-for-10 on field goal attempts this season.

WKU’s 20 percent field goal rate is the worst in the entire Football Bowl Subdivision.

“I’m going to pray and hope that those guys take care of business,” Taggart said. “Everybody’s responsibility is to get that job done, and that’s hurting our football team.”

Merrick, who has battled injuries during his time as a Topper, got his first start of the season Saturday in WKU’s 20-0 win over Florida Atlantic.

The former Bell County High School standout missed a 34-yard field goal attempt, then left after a missed extra point with what was ruled at the time as a hip flexor.

Merrick underwent X-rays Monday.

Tinius relieved Merrick, but missed field goal attempts of 45 and 32 yards.

Between the three missed field goals and missed extra point, the Toppers left 10 points on the field in a game that remained 6-0 until two fourth- quarter touchdowns.

“You drive down the field as an offense and you get zero points after a nice drive    — that can mess up your psyche,” Taggart said. “We’ve just got to get someone that’ll take it by the reigns.”

Taggart said Roy would get the nod this week for WKU’s Homecoming matchup against Louisiana-Lafayette.

The Charlotte native, who is 1-for-1 on field goal attempts this season, will be making his first career Sun Belt Conference start.

Hangin’ with “Uncle Mo”

WKU goes into Saturday riding its first two-game win streak since 2007 after back-to-back wins over Middle Tennessee State and Florida Atlantic.

It’s the type of success that has the Toppers spending some quality time with “Uncle Momentum,” or “Uncle Mo,” for short.

“You always want Uncle Mo on your side, and when he’s on your side good things happen,” Taggart said. “We have it going, we’re gaining confidence, and more than anything, our football team is getting better.”

The positive feelings of Topper fans seem to be a 180-degree turn from one month ago, when WKU was stunned with a 44-16 beating from Football Championship Subdivision opponent Indiana State.

“Right now, we’ve got a lot of belief on the team,” junior defensive tackle Kenny Martin said. “Everybody’s feeding off of each other’s energy, everybody’s loving everyone — we’ve never had it before.”

But with five Sun Belt games on the schedule, Taggart said he won’t be breaking out any “2011 Sun Belt Champions” hats after just a two-game winning streak.

“Winning can make us soft, and we don’t want to be a soft football team,” Taggart said. “We love it for 24 hours, and then we move on to the next one. Every game’s going to count, and it gets tougher each week.”

Checking the injury list

Taggart said sophomore fullback Kadeem Jones is “day-to-day” after leaving Saturday’s game with a tweaked ankle.

Jones’ four touchdowns this season are second on the team only to senior running back Bobby Rainey’s six.

If Jones can’t go against ULL, sophomore Nick Baisch will likely get the nod at fullback.

Meanwhile Taggart said sophomore running back Antonio Andrews will be “good to go” after missing the MTSU game with an ankle injury and the FAU game with a suspension.