There’s lots to like about WKU’s season opener at Nebraska

There's lots to like about WKU's season opener at Nebraska

Jonathan Lintner

While the WKU football team chased Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez throughout much of its 49-10 loss last Saturday, it’s fair to say the Toppers caught at least some excellence in the process.

Was it a win? No.

Was it progress? No doubt.

This was no David Elson opener. No “check please” and dash guaranteed game. No, because this 49-10 score looked much different than the 63-7 drubbing that Tennessee slapped on WKU last season.

The Toppers walked away on Saturday knowing they stuck to the game plan to run the ball against one of the expected top defenses in the nation. The game was free of major injury, and Head Coach Willie Taggart said after the game that he didn’t see any quit in his squad.

The only “embarrassment,” as Nebraska coach Bo Pelini put it, came from the Huskers. So after the 2010 opener, the Toppers didn’t hang their heads like they did a year ago.

“Don’t like the outcome, but I like our football team,” Taggart said.

There was a lot to like, such as junior running back Bobby Rainey’s career-high 155 yards on 30 carries. There was sophomore quarterback Kawaun Jakes, who came back from an interception to complete 12-of-22 passes for 120 yards.

And despite what Pelini said, Nebraska’s defense looked legit for much of the game. At times, WKU played the part, too. It just took 30 minutes for Taggart and company to become accustomed to the crowd noise in Memorial Stadium along with the size and speed advantage held by the Huskers.

The WKU offense crossed midfield just once during the whole first half – thanks to a Nebraska penalty – then scored 10 points in the second half and should have had more.

“Some people came out and weren’t prepared for the crowd, but we just got relaxed,” sophomore quarterback Kawaun Jakes said.

Then, as Jakes put it, the Toppers started playing football like WKU wanted to play football.

Rainey – as good as advertised – broke a 46-yard run and looked prepped to score and make it 28-10 in the third quarter. Instead, the ball was stripped. Nebraska regained possession, and the next thing the Toppers knew, it was 35-3.

Rainey found the end zone on WKU’s next drive to make it 35-10. The score could have been 28-17 at that point. There could have been a ball game with more than 15 minutes to play.

But the Toppers only caught some excellence on Saturday – at least the beginning of something good.

There’s room for improvement in a spotty defense and non-existent receiving corps, along with an excessive seven penalties.

The next test begins entering week two. WKU showcased potential along with its normal share of problems.

Now, unlike last season, isn’t the time to hang it up. Now the chase for more than a moral victory begins.