By Zach Greenwell
It was another solid day for Western’s defensive unit at Tuesday’s practice — and an equally sloppy day for the offense.
Although Head Coach Willie Taggart said that the first-team offense, led by sophomore quarterback Kawaun Jakes, looked much more crisp early in practice, the defense recorded six turnovers in the final hour that media members attended — most off freshman quarterback Brandon Doughty’s second-team offense.
A few of those defensive highlights included fumble recoveries by junior college transfer linebacker Tenerio Davis and sophomore defensive back Jamal Forrest, and interceptions by Forrest and senior linebacker Orlando Misaalefua.
Misaalefua returned his pick, which came at Doughty’s expense, for a touchdown to end practice and was promptly mobbed by his defensive teammates.
— Doughty had a really rough day under center, to be honest. He was constantly getting pressured by a defensive line that impresses me more each day, and that seemed to jolt the freshman a bit and lead him into making mistakes.
We didn’t see much of Jakes, who was awarded the starting job by Taggart yesterday, as the sophomore got most of his reps earlier in practice.
Junior Matt Pelesasa did not take a single rep today with lingering effects from what was called a sore throwing arm. Taggart said he preferred to let Pelesasa stay out and get healthy, because Doughty “showed today that he’s not ready.”
— I asked for an update on the Toppers’ kicking and punting situation, and Taggart said that it’s a big question mark right now.
Junior kicker Casey Tinius has been out for about two weeks with a strained groin, and Taggart said that the others vying for kicking and punting duties — namely Monte Merrick, Hendrix Brakefield and Kevin Carrillo — have not gotten the job done thus far.
Taggart said that he’s “seriously considering” having an open tryout for kickers at Western because the situation has been so bad. You’ve got to think, as Herald sports editor Jonathan Lintner noted, that now is a time when the Toppers could benefit from having a men’s soccer program on campus. Surely one of those guys could come over and “put it through the yellow things,” as Taggart put it.
Taggart said that he expects Tinius back by the end of this week, although he doesn’t want to rush him and risk further injury.
I’ll have more on Western’s special teams — including quotes from Taggart and special teams coach Karl Maslowski — in a little while at wkuherald.com.
— Taggart said the Toppers had their first “big” injury of camp today, when sophomore linebacker Chuck Franks sustained a knee injury. Taggart said he didn’t know the extent of the injury yet, but his tone suggested that Franks might be out for a long time.
Taggart also said that sophomore receiver Dexter Haynes, who has been out since the middle of last week, has been sidelined with a dislocated rib.
Others who didn’t practice today with minor injuries: running backs Bobby Rainey and Dalton Cissell, defensive backs Tyree Robinson and Derrius Brooks, and fullback Nick Baisch.
— In a final note, former Fort Campbell standout and Kentucky Mr. Football Antonio Andrews was spotted at the stadium today watching practice from the bleachers among fans. The Herald reported Monday that Andrews is enrolled at Western and is awaiting clearance from the NCAA to begin practicing with the Toppers.
Look for a full notebook from today and the story about the special teams unit at wkuherald.com in a bit.