Notebook: Tinius trying to figure out WKU kicking problems

Brad Stephens

WKU’s kicking unit has been one of its biggest problem areas this season.

Topper kickers have gone 2-for-7 on the season, including an 0-for-3 day from senior Casey Tinius Thursday in WKU’s 36-33 double overtime win over Middle Tennessee State.

Tinius, who is just 1-for-6 on the season, said Wednesday his struggles thus far have been comparable to last year, when he made five of his 11 attempts.

“I’m hitting good balls. I’m just a little right on most of them,” he said. “But I’ve been hitting the ball a little better in practice and hopefully that’ll translate to games. I’ve just got to hit every ball the same.”

While the former Bowling Green High School standout has struggled, the rest of the field goal unit hasn’t fared much better.

Erratic snaps and missed blocks have plagued WKU, especially against MTSU, when the Toppers allowed two blocked kicks.

The last block was especially costly, as it came on a 46-yard attempt with no time on the clock that would’ve clinched the win in regulation for WKU.

“If I don’t do my job perfect every time, I don’t by any means get frustrated if somebody else doesn’t,” Tinius said. “Thursday we got two blocked, but that second one wouldn’t have had a chance to get blocked if I made the one I missed. It’s frustrating to me because I haven’t been doing my job for the team.”

Even with the struggles of the kicking team, the Toppers are still in an opportunistic position as far as the Sun Belt Conference standings go, standing at 1-1 with six league games to play.

WKU’s next league test will be a road date with Florida Atlantic at 3 p.m. Saturday.

Tinius said he’d like to have another crack at a game-winner to make up for the miss against MTSU.

“Last Thursday, I had been waiting a long time to get a chance like that and it didn’t happen,” he said. “Obviously I’d like for us to get a huge win Saturday, but if it’s not a huge win I’d like another shot at one of those.”

Brooks enjoys Top 10 cameo

Derrius Brooks got his 15 seconds of ESPN fame following the MTSU win.

WKU’s junior cornerback made a crucial interception against the Blue Raiders, deep in Topper territory, that was selected as the No. 5 play on SportsCenter’s daily Top 10 segment.

Brooks, a former wide receiver, originally gave up a couple of steps to the MTSU receiver before catching up and making the diving pick. 

“Everybody was calling and telling me they saw my play on the Top 5,” Brooks said. “I had press coverage so I tried to keep my eyes on (the receiver’s) hips. He beat me off the line, I just turned around ran full speed right with him, looked back and the ball was in the air, and I jumped and got it.”

Brooks is no stranger to the big play.

Last year against Arkansas State he scored on a two-point conversion reverse play to clinch a 36-35 thriller.

“I don’t think (the MTSU interception) can top Arkansas State, winning the game” Brooks said, smiling. “But it’s up there.”

MTSU win gives confidence heading into FAU game 

The Toppers fought hard two weeks ago against Arkansas State, eventually dropping a 26-22 heartbreaker.

Standing at 0-4, that made WKU’s matchup with MTSU even more important from a confidence standpoint.

Senior running back Bobby Rainey said beating the Blue Raiders and getting over the winless hump has given the team a lift.

“It’s like a little booster,” Rainey said. “We’ve done got the victory out of the way, so now we’ve got to stack more of them.

“We’ve got to have the same mentality but better when we come out to practice.”