Taggart critical of Tops after Tuesday practice; defensive line’s production up

Zach Greenwell

Head Coach Willie Taggart said it was important for WKU to handle success the right way after its first win in 27 tries.

But after Tuesday’s practice, Taggart said the Toppers had let success get to them.

“They’re not responding the way I want them to,” Taggart said. “I think our guys got a little too many pats on the back. I’m very disappointed in our senior leadership to allow that to happen.

“That’s not what winners do.”

Sophomore defensive tackle Jamarcus Allen couldn’t pinpoint what caused WKU’s letdown, calling it “one of those days.”

But Allen said the Toppers need to figure it out, because they never want to revert to feeling of losing.

“It shouldn’t even be mentioned,” Allen said. “It’s been really repetitive, and I’m getting sick and tired of hearing it, so we know we don’t want to take ourselves back.”

Both Allen and sophomore defensive end Quanterus Smith said the good news is that WKU has two more full days of practice this week to fix the problem.

Taggart said the team has to find its old enthusiasm, and it needs to do it on its own.

“I shouldn’t have to remind you what that felt like,” he said. “It was like a freaking nightmare, and you shouldn’t want to be there anymore. You’ve got to wake up and continue to improve. We’ll see how they respond tomorrow.”

D-Line breaks out

Taggart praised the defensive line Tuesday for its efforts at Louisiana-Lafayette, saying the unit played a large role in WKU’s streak-snapping win.

“In any ballgame, it starts in the trenches, with the offensive and defensive lines,” he said. “If those guys aren’t playing well, nine times out of 10, your offense or defense isn’t going to go. It was good to see our guys step up.”

Smith recorded a sack in the game and forced a fumble that was returned for a touchdown by Allen. Smith now has 5.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks this season.

Taggart said the game was good for Smith because it showed him that he’s capable of making plays like the forced fumble all the time.

“You watch that play. That was big-time,” Taggart said. “That was a clinic tape. You go to a clinic, and you show that film. It was good for him to see that. He’s one of those guys that’ll work at it, and sometimes a little success will get you going.”

Smith said when he forced the fumble, he thought the play ended with a sack. But then he looked downfield to find Allen sprinting 69 yards the other way with the ball.

“I looked up late and saw big boy running, so I tried to catch him and celebrate with him,” Smith said, laughing.

The fumble return was Allen’s first career touchdown. He said he had two thoughts in his head while he was running: Score, and dive if you get to the 5-yard line.

Allen got the score, but Taggart joked Tuesday that Allen failed on a diving attempt.

Allen said he remembers differently.

“I got off the ground,” he said. “It wasn’t a rocket launcher, but I got off the ground.”