Tag Archives: Bobby Rainey

Friday football practice quick hits

By Zach Greenwell

Just got back from Western’s situational scrimmage football practice.

The Toppers worked through several different situations, lining up on the 35- and 50-yard lines early in practice, then moving to midfield and the red zone before backing up to the offense’s own goal line toward the end.

It was a poor day for the offense — probably one of its weakest so far this camp. The offense had several penalties and missed routes, and Head Coach Willie Taggart said he was kind of perplexed by the lack of focus.

Of the three quarterbacks, sophomore Kawaun Jakes was the clear winner today. Taggart said freshman Brandon Doughty began the day with two straight interceptions, and Pelesasa, who has returned from a tired throwing arm, never looked sharp and missed several throws.

It was just a weird day from the offense, to be honest. It probably comes down to a lack of mental focus — the kind of off day Taggart said he’d been waiting for — so it will be interesting to see how the Toppers respond tomorrow.

A few other thoughts from today’s scrimmage:

— Just a few people I saw sitting out of today’s practice — running backs Bobby Rainey and Avery Hibbitt, offensive lineman Adam Smith, receiver Dexter Haynes and linebacker Ben Duvall.

— Speaking of Rainey, I had a chance to talk with him after practice today. Rainey missed practice yesterday also with a sore shoulder, but I think both days have been purely precautionary. He should return to the field soon, yellow jersey in tote.

The conversation I had with Rainey was a pretty funny one. We talked football and just about everything outside it, including his tendency to play with himself on NCAA Football ’11 for Playstation 3.

Rainey commented on whether or not he’s rated fairly on the video game and even admitted that he sometimes puts himself in at QB when Jakes goes down hurt.

We of course also talked about the upcoming season and his expectations as an offensive leader. I’ll have that feature on Sunday, which is the team’s first day off since camp started.

I’ll have a notebook from today’s practice on the Web site soon, along with a feature on senior wide receiver Quinterrance Cooper. Cooper’s seen more losses than just about anybody on this Western squad, and he’ll be the first to tell you he’ll do anything Taggart says if it means wins.

Look for both of those stories at wkuherald.com later tonight.

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Thursday football quick hits: Pelesasa, Rainey sit with minor injuries

By Zach Greenwell

It was a fairly light news day at Western’s football practice Thursday morning.

Junior quarterback Matt Pelesasa was once again held out with what’s being called a tired throwing arm. Sophomore Kawaun Jakes and freshman Brandon Doughty again took all of the snaps under center with Pelesasa sidelined, but Head Coach Willie Taggart said Pelesasa would be back for this afternoon’s second practice.

Junior running back Bobby Rainey was also out of pads – and the infamous yellow jersey – and was seen icing his left shoulder.

Taggart said that Rainey landed awkwardly on the shoulder during a drill, but that holding him out was just precautionary.

“He sprained his shoulder in the summer, and he went to catch a ball and just landed on it,” Taggart said. “He’ll be fine though.”

We’ve seen similar situations from Taggart a lot this fall with tackle Wes Jeffries, kicker Casey Tinius and of course, Pelesasa. It’s pretty clear that when a proven playmaker goes down with a minor injury, this staff would prefer to give him a few days rest over risking something more serious.

Doughty looks strong

We didn’t get to see much 11-on-11 today, but in the few drives we did see, I was really impressed by Doughty.

The true freshman’s mid-range to deep ball looked the best it has, hooking up with tight end Tristan Jones and receivers Quinterrance Cooper and Blake Ayers for receptions of 15 yards or more.

Although I don’t think these last couple days are enough to pull Doughty back into the race with Pelesasa and Jakes, it does make it seem like the future could be bright for him.

Of course, with the offense having such big success, that means that the defense didn’t have its best day.

Taggart said it’s been two straight days where the offense has decisively gotten the better of the D, and he said the latter needs to learn when to say “enough is enough.”

“We were a lot better offensively today than we were defensively,” Taggart said. “But the thing I did like about the defense was that we were running to the ball. It just wasn’t as much energy as there has been.

“The guys feed off each other. When they’re fired up, it’s hard to move the ball on them. When they’re just out there and quiet, it comes really easy for the offense.”

Taggart goes ‘big-time’

On a lighter note, Taggart elaborated on his dinner last night at the governor’s mansion with Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear and his wife.

Taggart was joined by Western Director of Athletics Ross Bjork and President Gary Ransdell.

“I had all the questions I could,” Taggart said. “It’s not like I get to talk to the governor every day. I said I wanted to make sure I got it all out while I was there.

“I felt big-time. I felt like I arrived a little bit there. I walked out with my chest up and a little pep in my step after that.”

Taggart was asked what he had to eat at the dinner and excitedly answered steak and potatoes.

“We were keeping it country,” Taggart said. “Keeping it country in the governor’s mansion.”

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Friday football practice quick hits

By Zach Greenwell

We learned a few things at Western’s Friday football practice.

First, in a stunning revelation I’m sure most of you haven’t noticed, it’s scorching outside.

Today was the Toppers’ first day back in Houchens-Smith Stadium since Monday night, and with the heat rising on Feix Field, several players were either already out of practice or went down with cramps during.

Just a quick list of people we saw out of practice today: Freshmen defensive backs Xavius Boyd and Vince Williams, senior receivers Seth Tamme and Quinterrance Cooper and junior defensive end Jared Clendenin, who was carted off the field with what looked like a pretty intense cramp.

We also learned that the entire running back corps will be significant in the passing game — not just junior Bobby Rainey.

Although Rainey did catch a long bomb downfield from junior quarterback Matt Pelesasa for a touchdown today, junior running back Avery Hibbitt, who has switched back to offense after playing defensive back last year, caught several passes across the middle for good gains.

I’ll have more on Hibbitt and the expanded roles of the running backs in Taggart’s West Coast Offense in a little bit.

Other than that, the biggest news of practice was that Taggart says Pelesasa and sophomore Kawaun Jakes are somewhat separated from freshman Brandon Doughty in the quarterback race at this point, although Taggart said Doughty isn’t far behind.

I’ll have more on the quarterbacks situation, as well as Taggart wanting more “juice” from the defense when it makes a big play in a notebook on the blog in a little bit.

Look for a recap of practice at wkuherald.com shortly.

EDIT — Almost forgot to mention that media relations informed us that per senior Preston King, the offensive line will not be speaking to the media until the Toppers win a game this season.

Add that to the fact that all quarterbacks are unavailable to us until further notice, and you see that our updates on offense are going to be limited for a while.

Follow on Twitter (@chheraldsports) for daily football updates.

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NOTEBOOK: Veteran Cooper sees potential in WKU’s young receivers

Coach Tery Obee addresses his receivers -- a young and "timid" bunch, according to receiver Quinterrance Cooper -- after Western's third fall camp football practice. "I’ve seen a lot and been through a lot of adversity, so if they come to me, I do my best to help them out," Cooper said. PHOTO BY PETE RODMAN/HERALD

By Zach Greenwell

Senior wide receiver Quinterrance Cooper has seen it all at Western, from an encouraging 7-5 campaign in 2007 to the Toppers’ now-infamous 20-game losing streak.

So as the elder statesmen of the receiving corps, Cooper said he’s taken it upon himself to become a mentor.

“I do whatever I can to help the wide receiver group or anyone else on this team,” Cooper said. “I’ve been here four years. I’ve seen a lot and been through a lot of adversity, so if they come to me, I do my best to help them out.”

Video: Quinterrance Cooper’s full comments Thursday to the media

Cooper said some of the younger receivers have flashed a lot of potential, including Willie McNeal, who Cooper said has continued to “turn heads” after his MVP performance in the spring game.

“There’s a couple more freshman, and they’re just learning,” Cooper said. “We really don’t know what they can do yet. They’re out there. They’re a little timid. But once they loosen up, we know they can play because they’re here.”

With three quarterbacks still competing for the starting job, Cooper said it takes work to get timing down with each. But until the depth chart is solidified, you have to work with what you have, he said.

“We don’t really have too many lineups so far,” he said. “Everybody’s getting reps with every different person, and it takes time. We don’t know which guys it’s going to be yet, so the more time we get, we have to take advantage of that opportunity.

“You just have to make plays. If the balls in the air and you’re a receiver, go get it. If you’re a running back and he hands it to you, make a play.”

Rainey expects an expanded role out of backfield in 2010

Junior running back Bobby Rainey has had his touches limited thus far in practice — at least during the time media can attend — but Head Coach Willie Taggart said he’s expecting big things from arguably Western’s top playmaker.

“I told Bobby that, ‘If you want to have a great year, you’ve got to be a great leader,’” Taggart said. “’You have all the athletic ability. You’ve done everything. Everyone looks to you when things go bad, so be that leader.’

“The kids a winner. He wants to win. That’s how he’s been since day one when I met him, which I really like.”

Rainey’s scarcity on the practice field is likely because he will almost certainly be called upon to carry the brunt of the load for Western’s rushing attack this season.

Taggart said he’s told Rainey he doesn’t want him to come up just shy of 1,000 rushing yards again, because “almost doesn’t cut it.” But at the same time, Taggart said he doesn’t envision Rainey getting 30 carries a game  since other backs will share carries.

“Those other guys have to step up,” Taggart said. “They shouldn’t let up because Bobby’s out here. We’re not just saying it’s a lock that Bobby’s the guy. It’s an open competition, and we’re going to play best guy. All that’s going to do is make Bobby better and the guys behind him better.”

Related: Taggart mum on Nebraska after Thursday’s practice

Rainey said Western’s running backs — including reserves Braxston Miller, Keyshawn Simpson and Avery Hibbitt among others — have the physical attributes to be a successful unit if they can couple it with a strong cerebral approach.

“When it’s hot out here, it’s basically just focus,” Rainey said. “We can’t not have that consistent focus one time. If we do that mentally – physically we look good. It’s just that mental focus part.”

While Rainey likely won’t carry the ball 30 times, look for him to have an increased role as a receiver.

The junior has already made some big-time catches out of the backfield in practice this fall from each of the Toppers’ three quarterbacks.

“We have a chance to do a lot of different things with Bobby,” Taggart said. “He’s athletic enough, and we wouldn’t do our team any good if we didn’t find ways to get the ball in his hands.

“I told him, ‘You’re going to have an opportunity to expand your game — not just as a runner and kickoff returner, but as a receiver too. You’re going to be able to show your versatility, so get excited about it and take advantage of it.’”

Injury update

Taggart said that the only real note on the injury front was that freshman defensive back Jerome Speights is still suffering from a sprained knee. Speights was on crutches Thursday, but that seemed to be more of a precaution.

There were a handful of other Toppers held out of practice, but Taggart said that all of them were out because of a minor illness or having had an IV from the day before.

Follow on Twitter (@chheraldsports) for daily football updates.

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Western 7, North Texas 7 (10:57 first quarter)

Sophomore receiver Derrius Brooks answered the North Texas touchdown with an 81-yard kickoff return. Sophomore running back Bobby Rainey scored a play later from six yards out to tie the game early.

  • It will be interesting to watch the Toppers’ defensive front as the game progresses. Junior linebacker Chris Bullard played down on the first drive, throwing more of a 4-3 look at North Texas rather than the customary 3-4.

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Western-MTSU: Third quarter recap

MTSU’s Desmond Gee opened the second half with a 79-yard kick return, and from there it was more of the same for Western. The Toppers were outscored 17-7 and enter the fourth quarter down 48-17, their largest deficit since they lost 63-7 to Tennessee in the season opener.

  • Sophomore running back Bobby Rainey fumbled after MTSU’s quarter-opening field goal, and the Blue Raiders found the end zone two plays later on a 49-yard run by Kenneth Gilstrap.
  • Western’s lone score of the third quarter came on a four-yard rush by sophomore quarterback Kawaun Jakes, who was the Toppers’ lone option at quarterback until senior quarterback Brandon Smith came in during the final minute of the quarter.
  • One thing changed in the third quarter, and that was the time of possession. Although MTSU didn’t stick exclusively to the ground, they managed to close the gap to two minutes after holding the ball for much of the quarter.

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Monday Luncheon Wrap-up

-Just got back from the WKU football Monday Media Luncheon–F.Y.I., leftovers from Saturday’s media dinner as the last two lunches are a sign of a down economy–and we got a few interesting thoughts and insights into both the Toppers 30-22 loss to Louisiana-Lafayette and the upcoming game at Middle Tennessee State from head coach David Elson, redshirt sophomore running back Bobby Rainey and redshirt junior Orlando Misaalefua.

Rainey and the offense are looking to capitalize on one of their most balanced games of the season, racking up 308 yards of offense–141 passing, 167 rushing–against ULL. The word from Rainey was that the offense had bright spots, but that the sour notes were more of a point of emphasis and the offense must start to capitalize on every possession.

“We got better in some areas and there are some areas we didn’t get better at,” Rainey said. “We got to convert and capitalize on every possession to keep the defense off the field.”

Misaalefua gave a defensive perspective that it’s the frustration has mounted with the team not being able to get third down stops, especially in crucial, late-game situations. Louisiana-Lafayette was able to get two consecutive third downs late in the game to prevent WKU from getting the ball back with a chance to tie on Saturday. Doing so against Sun Belt Conference opponents adds to the frustration.

“We have to get third down stops,” Misaalefua said. “We have to get off the field and so far we’ve been improving on that. And we have to get, defensive backs have got to get interceptions. Linebackers, we’ve got to get stops. D-Lineman, we’ve got to gush the quarterback, we’ve just got to play football.”

Things may get slightly easier against a Middle Tennessee team that is currently 30% (31-for-102) on the season on third down.

Elson shared the sentiment of Misaalefua, saying that just a handful of plays have been the difference in some of the games this season.

“Just different little things,” Elson said. “The touchdown in the endzone, (senior defensive back) Jihad (Morris) is right there. We’re close, and you know so, we want to be encouraged and motivated by that because it does get frustrating that you’re not doing enough to get into the win column. It’s a combination of ‘hey, we’ve obviously got some areas where we’ve got to improve’ but also a message of ‘hey, we’re close and we’ve played better in areas’ the decision making, the penalties were as good as they’ve been all year.”

WKU committed a season low two penalties for 15 yards.

Many are billing this game as a rivalry game from a fan perspective, and Elson said while agreeing with that, the game itself is in it’s years of rebuilding from a rivalry standpoint. MTSU coach Rick Stockstill stated before last seasons’s game that he doesn’t view it as a rivalry.

“It’s a fans thing,” Elson said. “His point was, and I totally understand where he’s coming from, you prepare for this game like you do any other game. That’s exactly the way we approach it. But from a historical standpoint and fans perspective , yea, it’s a rivalry, because of the geography and the (Ohio Valley Conference days).”

With the team getting so close in so many games–two of the last three games have been one-possession games in the second half–Elson said that as the season wears on, getting close isn’t going to be enough.

Nothing major on the injury front. Wide receiver Dustin Boyer has already been listed as out against for MTSU with a knee injury. Redshirt freshman tight end Jack Doyle, the team’s leader in receptions and yardage, is listed as day-to-day with nerve damage in his shoulder that Elson said just needs “rest and rehab”.

Junior offensive lineman Preston King, who left Saturday’s game and didn’t return, is still battling an ankle injury and is also a wait-and-see case. Redshirt junior wide receiver Quinterrance Cooper will be evaluated this week in regards to his concussion. He missed last game with the injury.

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