Taggart still trying to amp up WKU sidelines on Tuesday

Zach Greenwell

After all the time and energy spent preaching the phrase, Head Coach Willie Taggart is still searching for some “juice.”

WKU’s theme for Tuesday was excitement, something Taggart said has been visibly absent from the sidelines.

“It seems like it’s work around here instead of fun and excitement,” Taggart said. “I think if they all get a little more excited, they’ll have more production. You have to enjoy the moment, because a lot of people would like to be in the position they’re in now.”

Taggart said he was disappointed during the Florida International game with the lack of communication and intensity, even when freshman Tyree Robinson got an interception or sophomore Dexter Haynes reeled in a 53-yard touchdown catch.

“I knew it was going to be hard to get it out of them because they haven’t had it,” he said. “They haven’t had anything to be excited about, so we’re trying to find things to be excited about. A lot of kids don’t understand that emotion plays a big role in games.”

Taggart said it wasn’t until WKU’s final drive, when freshman Willie McNeal dropped a game-tying touchdown pass with less than a minute remaining, that he felt the Toppers were emotionally in the game.

He said those few moments against FIU reminded him of when Stanford began to turn the tide when he was an assistant, a change in culture that culminated with an upset win over Southern California.

“That last drive was the first time I had the sideline like I wanted it,” Taggart said. “That was the first time I walked down the sideline and said, ‘Yes, this is going to be that defining moment.’ I got chills, and it felt like the USC game.”

Saturday’s home game against Louisiana-Monroe will be a good chance to bring back that energy. The Toppers will open the home portion of their Sun Belt schedule, and Taggart said he’s going to have to see and hear more excitement.

“I really think once we do that, we’ll draw strength from each other and get it rolling,” he said.