WKU’s Taggart impressed by offense in team’s final scrimmage

Offensive lineman Seth White (75) blocks during an extra point drill at practice at Smith Stadium on Aug. 25, 2011.

Brad Stephens

WKU Head Coach Willie Taggart said Wednesday that he

was ready to see how his team would handle a game situation.

Taggart said Thursday that the offense handled the

live action far better than their defensive counterparts.

“The offense came out ready to play and executed

really well,” Taggart said. “Both the running and passing game

looked well.

“The defense didn’t come out ready to play. We said

it earlier in training camp, when our defense doesn’t play with a

lot of energy and a lot of enthusiasm, they don’t play well at all.

Yesterday was a good point for our football team to see that.”

Sophomore linebacker Mike Federspiel agreed with

Taggart’s assessment, saying the defense “didn’t play with the

emotion” it needed.

He said there are improvements to be made before the

Toppers take on Kentucky on Sept. 1, exactly one week from

Thursday.

“We have a week before the game so we really have to

focus in on what we need to do,” Federspiel said. “We did some good

things but we also need to work on some things.”

Going into the scrimmage, Taggart talked about the

need to solidify the offensive line.

He said Thursday he was most impressed with junior

tackles Adam Smith and Seth White and sophomore guard Luis

Polanco.

Taggart said he anticipates using an offensive line

rotation this season.

“We have some guys that have some experience from

playing last year or even starting,” Taggart said. “I could see

times where some of those guys could get in play for us and that’s

a good thing that we have a little depth.”

Freshmen running backs earn

praise

Running backs were a point of emphasis when Taggart

went out to recruit the current freshmen class.

Those efforts paid off, as Taggart brought in

Rivals.com three-star running backs Marquis Sumler and Quartterrio

Morgan.

Thursday Taggart praised the efforts of Sumler,

Morgan and freshman John Evans, and said they’re coming along well

just a week away from their first-ever college game.

“I feel like we recruited the right guys,” Taggart

said. “All three of them did some good things in the scrimmage

yesterday that have us feeling really good.

“Morgan and John Evans had really separated

themselves, then yesterday we put Sumler in there and the light

seemed like it came on. The kid came in there and ran hard. He was

really, really, really impressive.”

Evans, Morgan and Sumler may find themselves working

in a backup rotation this year, competing for the job of spelling

senior running back Bobby Rainey.

Rainey carried the ball 340 times last season, the

highest total in the Football Bowl Subdivision, and WKU coaches

have emphasized finding other running back options throughout fall

camp.

Rainey said he was confident the other running backs

could pick up where he left off when he takes a break during a

game.

“I know when I go out that everything will still be

fine,” Rainey said. “I have confidence that the younger guys will

get the job done.”

Taking on Dad’s team

Facing an in-state rival can bring special emotions

for a football team.

But for Federspiel, taking on Kentucky Sept. 1 means

going against a program in which his father is recognized as a

legend.

Federspiel played his prep career at Henry Clay High

School in Lexington, and his father, Joe, was a UK linebacker

before moving on to a 10-year NFL career.

Joe Federspiel was named to the Kentucky 100th

Anniversary Team in 1990 by both the Lexington Herald-Leader and

Louisville Courier-Journal.

Mike Federspiel said playing his father’s alma mater

will have special meaning for him.

“My dad had a good career there and I grew up a UK

fan,” he said. “I’m looking forward to playing them, and I think we

have a shot against them.”

He won’t be the only former Henry Clay alum on the

field Thursday.

Kentucky receiver Aaron Boyd and center Sam Simpson

were both high school teammates of Federspiel.

“They like to run their mouths a little bit because

they got us last year,” Federspiel said. “But we’re a lot better

than we were last year and we’re ready for them.”