Football notes: Taggart to evaluate QB situation

Quarterback Kawaun Jakes (6) looks for an open receiver downfield and throws an interception against Navy in the third quarter at Houchens-Smith Stadium on Saturday evening.

Brad Stephens

Many of Kawaun Jakes’ fiercest critics got their wish Saturday, as the junior quarterback was pulled in favor of redshirt freshman Brandon Doughty in the third quarter of WKU’s 40-14 home loss to Navy.

Jakes went 7-of-12 for just 51 yards with an interception thrown and a fumble lost before being benched.

Head Coach Willie Taggart said after the game that he went to Doughty to give the offense “a spark.”

Doughty did just that on his first drive, going 5-of-9 for 70 yards and setting up a one-yard rushing touchdown from senior running back Bobby Rainey.

But Doughty struggled after that, going 7-of-12 the rest of the way for just 30 yards, adding a fourth quarter interception returned for a Midshipmen touchdown.

When asked to assess the quarterback situation, Taggart said, “I can tell you that a lot better on Monday when I watch the film. We’ll evaluate that like we evaluate any other position, and we’ll see.”

Taggart said that despite Doughty’s solid first drive, he “still has a long way to go.”

“After that first drive he struggled because of a lack of focus,” Taggart said. “That’s been his problem and he’s got to focus a lot more.

“He throws to a guy (on the interception) that he has no business throwing to, and he knows that. He’s got to get better with that.”

Ironically, Jakes was pulled against the team he made his first career appearance against in 2009 — arguably the best game of his career.

Taggart said Jakes handled the benching well.

“He was on the sidelines watching the defense, talking, saying, ‘Coach they’re in this coverage, this would be a good play,’” he said. “He was talking to Brandon and he was great.

“He had his teammates’ back. Did he like it? I’m sure he didn’t like it but there’s nothing he can do.”

Taggart: Navy “a lot better” in person

WKU coaches and players spoke throughout the week about the need to stop Navy’s vaunted triple option offense.

But the Toppers were unable to stop the Midshipmen much at all Saturday, giving up 410 yards on the ground.

“I think you take it for granted when you see it on film, but when you see those guys in person, they do it top notch,” Taggart said. “I don’t think there’s anyone out there that does it better than those guys.

“Navy was a lot better than what we thought on film. I heard their coach (Ken Niumatalolo) say earlier in the week they are a lot faster and they showed it today.” 

Taggart says to judge team on 12 games, not two

The official attendance total was 19,409, the highest in Houchens-Smith Stadium since 20,772 fans watched WKU lose 38-21 to Indiana on Sept. 18, 2010.

Many left in the first quarter after a sudden rainstorm, while others filed out as the game moved farther out of reach.

But following the game, Taggart had one message to the fans.

“I appreciate our fans. It was a great crowd,” Taggart said. “And I really appreciate the ones that stayed to the end through the rain.

“Our football team is going to get better. Don’t judge our football team on two games . Judge us on 12. Those were two pretty good football teams we lost to (Kentucky and Navy) and our football team is going to get better.” 

Additional notes: 

-Taggart’s record as WKU coach falls to 2-12, while Jakes’ record as a starting quarterback stands at 2-20.

-Senior kicker Casey Tinius missed a 32-yard field goal wide right in the first quarter and is now 1-of-3 this season on field goal attempts.

-Sophomore punter Hendrix Brakefield, reigning Sun Belt Conference Special Teams Player of the Week, was solid once again, averaging 44 yards per punt on six attempts. Sophomore returner Antonio Andrews had a 75-yard kick return in the second quarter and finished the game with 205 return yards. 

-WKU will next play Indiana State on Saturday at Smith Stadium. The Toppers haven’t played a Football Championship Subdivision opponent since Sept. 19, 2009, when they fell 28-7 to Central Arkansas.