Rainey chasing individual goals along with wins for WKU

Junior running back Bobby Rainey is approaching his season-long goal of a 1,500 yards rushing. Rainey needs to average 128 yards per game in WKU’s last two games to reach the mark.

Zach Greenwell

Bobby Rainey may be picking up the tab soon.

WKU’s junior running back told the media two weeks ago that he would treat his offensive line to a meal of their choice if he got to 1,500 rushing yards this season.

With Rainey now just 256 yards away from the goal with two games to go, senior offensive lineman Mychal Patterson said it might be time for him to keep his wallet handy.

“We’re not putting any pressure on him,” Patterson said, laughing. “We’re just out there to play football. But we will hold him up to his end of the deal. Once we get our job done, he better do what he needs to do.”

Rainey’s been delivering consistently all season, putting himself in the position to break several records. He’s now seventh on WKU’s all-time rushing list, and his 1,244 yards this year are the ninth-most in a season.

“What he’s doing now is contributing big-time to our program and where we’re trying to get as a program,” Head Coach Willie Taggart said. “I think he appreciates that because he’s a big part of that. Before, he wasn’t a big part of what they were doing around here, and now he’s like the focal point.”

Rainey came into this season having never carried the ball 20 times in a game. He now leads the nation in carries with 268, leaving him 36 short of the WKU record and 41 shy of the Sun Belt record.

“It’s going my way with the carries, but I wish I could have the wins under that,” Rainey said. “But the carries are good. Yeah, the carries are good.”

Taggart said going into this season that he’d like to limit Rainey to about 20 carries per game, saying  he wasn’t the type of running back to have a heavier workload.

But that’s exactly what he’s turned into, notching seven games with 100 or more rushing yards and four games with 30 or more carries.

Taggart said that durability has surprised him. He labeled Rainey a “war daddy.”

“As the year’s gone on, we’ve found out that this kid’s pretty tough, and he can handle some of those things,” Taggart said. “The kid wants to be in there. He doesn’t want to be on the sidelines. He’s one of the best things we’ve got going for us.”

Rainey carried the ball a career-high 37 times in last weekend’s 36-35 win over Arkansas State.

He’ll need 128 yards per game in WKU’s final two contests to reach his goal of 1,500, which is right under his season average.

But Rainey said he’d trade every individual honor for two wins to end the season, starting with the Toppers’ final home game against Middle Tennessee at 3:15 p.m. Saturday.

He had just 67 yards in WKU’s first win this season over Louisiana-Lafayette, which he said made him think his big performances might be a curse.

But his 154 yards at ASU proved that theory wrong, so Rainey said he’s going to keep shooting for his goals.

Even if it means he has to pick up the check.

“I don’t see it as difficult to me,” he said. “If you give me the ball, I’m going to make something happen.”