COLUMN: WKU’s offense needs Jakes as a weapon

Junior quarterback Kawaun Jakes went 9-for-27 for 93 yards on Thursday threw and four interceptions in the Toppers 14-3 loss to UK.

Cole Claybourn

NASHVILLE — The idea was that a national television audience would get to see senior running back Bobby Rainey’s talents.

Instead, what people saw was a WKU offense that struggled to connect on pass attempt after pass attempt.

All fall camp, Head Coach Willie Taggart talked as if junior quarterback Kawaun Jakes had made strides to become an offensive leader, even going as far as to call him a weapon. That proved to not be the case Thursday night, as WKU fell to UK 14-3 at L.P. Field in Nashville.

Jakes finished 9-for-27 passing for 93 yards and four interceptions. But Taggart said it wasn’t all Jakes’ fault.

“Kawaun’s getting hit on his back too much,” he said. “We’ve got to do a better job of protecting him. He missed some throws, especially early on. I thought he just needed to settle down.”

Rainey agreed.

“We have to block better,” Rainey said. “We’ve got to give Kawaun better time to throw the ball. Like Coach Taggart said, he’s on the ground too much. We’ve got to do a better job of blocking and keeping him safe.”

Jakes did get hit a lot, much like he did against Kentucky last season. But he missed several players who were wide open.

Jakes missed a wide open Marcus Vasquez on a play that would have likely ended in a touchdown in the first quarter. He then missed an even more wide open Jack Doyle in the end zone in the second quarter.

Taggart suggested that Jakes got hit as he threw, which caused the incompletion to Vasquez. But the throw to Doyle? A much different story, Taggart said.

“He missed Jack. That was just a flat out miss,” Taggart said. “But if we do a better job of protecting him, our passing game will be what need it to be.”

Need is right.

WKU needs its passing game to become the weapon that Taggart says it will be. Rainey rushed for 105 yards on 28 carries and caught two passes for 21 yards, but he didn’t find the end zone.

What opponents learned tonight is that if Rainey is kept out of the end zone, WKU will have a tough time winning, even with the defense holding UK to 190 yards – 35 in the first half.

That means another method of scoring needs to be developed.

Taggart admitted that WKU should have spent more time getting Jakes in rhythm earlier in the game rather than going for deep passes from the get-go.

By that point, though, the Toppers’ prime scoring chances were wasted.

“We’re going to go back and watch the film and get it corrected fast,” Taggart said. “We’re gonna get it to get it together offensively. We missed a lot of opportunities there. We’re going to box this film, analyze it and come back and make plays.

“If we play great defense, we’re going to have a chance every ball game. But against a team like Kentucky, you have to take advantage of those opportunities, and we didn’t.”

That’s ultimately why WKU’s record against Southeastern Conference teams remains winless.