WKU football in Nebraska prep mode; Tinius back in action

Brad Stephens

WKU was once again in Nebraska-preparation mode on Wednesday — two days before the team is depart from Bowling Green to Lincoln, Neb.

The scout team was wearing Cornhusker jerseys and running Nebraska plays. The scout team offense especially was getting the Toppers’ defense ready for the option attack they’ll see on Saturday.

Also noticeable at Smith Stadium Wednesday was the artificial crowd noise played over the loudspeakers. Although loud, it was nowhere near the levels of Tennessee week last season, when Rocky Top could be heard blaring throughout campus.

 As will be procedure on Wednesdays during the season, Head Coach Willie Taggart was not available for comment after practice, but I was able to speak with quarterback Kawaun Jakes and placekicker Casey Tinius.

Jakes, named the starter a week ago, completed most of his passes during the session open to media, hitting receivers Willie McNeal and Quinterrance Cooper on several occasions.

Jakes on facing Nebraska defense

“The team seems ready to play. We’ve been hitting ourselves, so we’re ready to go against another opponent. We’ve been focused on Nebraska and nothing else. We’ve got to do what we do best which is play ball, have fun and give the ball to Bobby Rainey.

On keeping team loose

“I’ve been really trying to be focused but I realized I had to loosen up and have fun with the guys. Make everybody relax and stop being so nervous.”

On communication with offensive line

“I’ve been chilling with them. They’ve got to protect me so I’ve got to get my words in with them. If we’re playing ping-pong, I’ve just got to spend more time with them off the field. We’ve got to be a family.”

Tinius, who missed the majority of fall camp with a groin injury, was finally cleared to practice this week. His most impressive kick of the day came on a 47 yard field goal attempt that would’ve been good from 57.

Tinius on injury

“It was actually my hamstring. I pulled it this summer and wasn’t able to kick for about four weeks. When camp started, I was good to go, and I kicked four days in a row. On that fourth day, I put my foot in the ground to plant, felt it pull a little bit, and they told me not to kick until I felt like I was good to go… Now I’m feeling really good. As a kicker, I obviously don’t do a lot at practice, so I felt like I was really letting the team down not even being out there to do my job for about two and a half, three weeks.”

On returning as the team’s starting kicker

“This year’s really big. I told the team the other night that I felt I let the team down in a couple of games last year, missing a couple of field goals that would’ve put us ahead, or the one at Louisiana-Monroe that would’ve tied the game in the last minute or two. I feel like I have unfinished business to take care of. I saw this summer that I wasn’t predicted first (in the Sun Belt), and with my competitiveness that’s not good enough. My goal is to be the best kicker in the conference and work toward being one of the best kickers in the country. I’ve got to beat the other eight guys in the conference first.’

On Hendrix Brakefield, who was named the team’s kickoff specialist

“He got thrown right into it and was told on the spot that he’d be the kicker on Saturday. That kid has unlimited potential with how tall he is, and how long his legs are, he has a really strong leg. Before he gets done here he’s going to be one of the best punt and kickoff guys to come through here.”