Notes: Taggart defends Jakes, whose job is safe

Sophomore Kawaun Jakes escapes a tackle by FAU junior Jarvis Givens during the game Saturday.

Andrew Robinson

Head Coach Willie Taggart said he’s sticking with sophomore quarterback Kawuan Jakes, despite completing just 8-of-24 passes for 70 yards in WKU’s 17-16 loss to Florida Atlantic on Saturday.

“I’m not getting into that,” Taggart said. “That’s not a position where you just go back and fourth. You can’t, especially when you’re trying to establish the offense.”

Taggart defended Jakes during a Monday press conference, saying that Jakes is learning as the Toppers go.

“I tip my hat to the kid, because he gets blamed for everything,” Taggart said. “It’s not just one guy that plays this game. As bad as he did play, we still had an opportunity to win the ballgame.”

Taggart also said for the offense to be successful, everyone on the offense must come together and do their job.

“When I see Kawuan is a problem with our offense and the reason we’re not going then, yes, I’ll make that decision to put someone else in there,” Taggart said.

Things won’t get any easier for Jakes. He lost his leading receiver, Marcus Vasquez on Saturday. Taggart said Vasquez is out for the season with a broken collarbone. Vasquez had 30 receptions for 332 yards and 3 touchdowns.

“Someone has got to step up and make plays,” Taggart said.

-Junior running back Bobby Rainey has been a workhorse for the Toppers all season. Rainey finished with 152 yards on 33 carries Saturday, making him the 14th player in WKU history to rush for 1,000 yards in a season.

But Rainey isn’t done.

He said he’d rather have wins than individual accomplishments and would like to achieve 1,500 yards for the season.

If that goal is met for Rainey, he plans to take the WKU offensive line out for a meal in appreciation of their efforts.

-While the offense has struggled to find its way, the defense has shown improvement in five major statistical categories this season under first-year defensive coordinator Clint Bowen.

Saturday, WKU gave up just 215 yards and held FAU to just 2 of 12 third down conversions.

“I feel it’s like one of the best games we’ve had as a defense this season,” senior linebacker Thomas Majors said. “We’ve got to keep it rolling the rest of the season and continue to improve.”

-Defensive coordinator Clint Bowen came to WKU with nearly a decade of experience with Kansas’ defense, and his improved WKU defense could make him an attractive candidate to new head coaches looking to fill out their staffs for the 2011 season.

“He knows what we’re doing here and what we’re building here,” Taggart said. “From everything I get, coach Bowen enjoys Bowling Green and enjoys being a part of this progress and he loves our kids.”

-Now WKU turns its attention to three games against three of the top four teams in the Sun Belt Conference standings.

Taggart said this three-game stretch is just as difficult as any stretch in the season.

“We’ve got to find a way to win these ballgames,” Taggart said.