WKU’s seniors running out of time to win

Senior wide receiver Quinterrance Cooper has seen good times and bad at Western, but before coming to WKU had seen almost only good.

Zach Greenwell

Quinterrance Cooper didn’t used to handle losses well.

The senior receiver out of St. Augustine (Fla.) High School said he once considered giving up football all together after one of his three total losses in high school.

But Cooper has dealt with plenty of losses at WKU. He hasn’t given up so far, and he said each one has shown him how to better deal with adversity.

“It’s all a part of growing up,” Cooper said. “You know losses come with playing sports. If you can’t take them, you really can’t play sports.”

Cooper’s come a long way, although he said that same agony from high school crept back in last Saturday when WKU collapsed against Louisiana-Monroe.

“That was just sort of how it hit me this weekend, but I know that after a loss, you’ve got to bounce back,” he said.

Head Coach Willie Taggart said WKU’s senior class was missing resiliency when he first arrived.

Now that most of the veterans have just six games remaining in their football careers, Taggart said he’s seen a renewed enthusiasm.

“Those guys really want to win,” Taggart said. “In the past, they’d sit over there and milk it out, but that showed me that some guys are starting to not let pain get in the way of our goals.”

The Toppers fought through plenty of pain last Saturday.

Taggart said senior offensive lineman Mychal Patterson sustained an ankle injury that could have sidelined him for the rest of the game, but Patterson taped it up and went back on the field. Junior offensive lineman Wes Jeffries dislocated a finger and had a trainer immediately pop it back into place.

But senior linebacker Chris Bullard said that tough mentality has been in WKU all season. It’s just been dormant at times.

“It was always us against the world,” Bullard said. “We didn’t have a chance to lay back. We’ve been pressing all season. We tried to take that mentality that we can beat anybody or get beat by anybody.”

Taggart said the way WKU lost its last two games gave the seniors a reality check.

The team lost to Florida International and Louisiana-Monroe by a combined 12 points, and Taggart said having victory ripped away can get under a player’s skin.

“Those games are winnable,” he said. “We’ve been in every last one of those ballgames, and those games have come down to the last play. It’s not like we’re getting beat by 14 or 20.”

But to Cooper, there’s not much difference between losing by one and losing by 20.

All of the seniors are hungry to break the losing streak, but forcing the issue won’t change anything, he said.

“Losing isn’t accepted where I’m from,” he said. “It’s still not accepted to us, but we know it’s a process. We’ve only got six more left. For most of the seniors, that’s all that’s going to be left. We’re not pressing, but we’re really trying to get this first win and five more after that.”