Notes: Vasquez injured, Doyle sits again in FAU loss

Sophomore Marcus Vasquez is escorted off the field after being injured during the game against FAU on Saturday.

Zach Greenwell

WKU’s offense managed just 70 yards passing in Saturday’s 17-16 loss to Florida Atlantic, and the Toppers had to largely do it without their two biggest receiving threats.

Sophomore tight end Jack Doyle missed his second straight game with a nagging neck injury, and sophomore receiver Marcus Vasquez was helped off the field in the second quarter Saturday with an apparent shoulder injury.

Taggart said Vasquez’ injury seemed to mainly be affecting his collarbone.

“It’s difficult because those are guys that get the majority of the reps when they’re in there, but that’s not an excuse,” Taggart said. “All of our guys know our plays — we’ve just got to step up and get it done.”

Sophomore quarterback Kawaun Jakes completed just 8-of-24 passes in the game. Three of those completions went to junior running back Bobby Rainey, and freshman Demetrius Coley, a backup tight end, was the only actual receiver with multiple catches.

The poor performance came on the heels of a 33-6 loss to North Texas, in which Taggart accused the the receiving corps of “hurting the team.”

But on Saturday, Taggart said Jakes was more to blame.

“I don’t think he played up to his potential in this game,” he said. “I really thought he was pressing early in the game and not being relaxed. I don’t think he — I know he didn’t play his best ballgame.”

The receivers had just four catches in the game. Freshman Willie McNeal, the team’s leading receiver behind Vasquez and Doyle, had no catches.

Despite the lack of production, Taggart said there was much more to be pleased about than against North Texas.

“I thought they played with a lot more energy,” he said. “Again, in this game, a lot of times we didn’t get the ball there to see if they were running the right routes. But I do think those guys came ready to play.”

Pesky penalties

It seemed like every time WKU got something going Saturday night, out came the yellow flags.

The Toppers were whistled for nine penalties for 78 yards, both season highs.

“All year long, we’ve been pretty good from the penalty standpoint,” Taggart said. “I was asking the refs the same thing. We’ve been pretty good with that, and unfortunately we had a bad day with it, and it came at a critical time.”

WKU was called for three pass-interference penalties, two of which came on drives that eventually ended in points for FAU.

Taggart called the first two pass-interference calls, which came on third-down plays in the first quarter, “bologna calls,” but some of the other penalties did just as much damage.

A personal foul on junior offensive lineman Wes Jeffries in the second quarter moved WKU out of field-goal range, and an offsides penalty on the Toppers’ defense on the final possession of the game allowed FAU to run out the clock.

The penalties spoiled an otherwise stellar showing from WKU’s defense, which held the Owls to just 215 yards of offense. That bested WKU’s previous season low, which was 283 yards allowed at South Florida.

“Everybody came out with a lot of energy, and we were ready to rebound from the performance we put out there last week,” senior linebacker Thomas Majors said. “We were all ready to go out there and show what we’re capable of doing.

“It is frustrating, but we’ve just got to come out and work harder.”

Rainey reaches milestone

Rainey came into Saturday’s game needing just 62 rushing yards to reach 1,000 for the year, and he blew by the mark with 152 yards on 33 carries.

He’s just the 14th player in WKU history to rush for 1,000 yards in a season, and the first since Tyrell Hayden did it in 2007.

After finishing with 939 yards last year, Rainey had previously said that reaching 1,000 yards was a personal goal for 2010.

But following the loss to FAU, he said it was hard to be excited.

“I’m thinking about that loss,” Rainey said. “I hadn’t even thought about that.”

Taggart took a more upbeat outlook toward the feat, saying that the Toppers will take whatever positives they can get right now.

“That’s one good thing we’ve got going for us right now, and we need something good in our football team to build off of,” Taggart said. “Whenever you have a guy that can do something, whether it’s individually or team, it’s good for your football team.”