By Zach Greenwell
Finally, they speak.
Western’s three quarterbacks became available to the media for the first time after Tuesday morning’s practice, and the standard line from all of them was that it’s more about improving right now than winning the starting job.
Head Coach Willie Taggart reiterated today that junior Matt Pelesasa and sophomore Kawaun Jakes have distanced themselves from true freshman Brandon Doughty, although Taggart hesitated to say that Doughty was out of the race altogether.
“Every year, as long as I’m head coach, we’re going to have some competition at that position,” Taggart said. “We need it. We need the best out of those guys all the time.
“Kawaun had a really good day today, but again, Matt made some good plays. Both those guys are coming. I’m happy with where they’re at, but they’ve got to continue working to separate themselves.”
Both Pelesasa and Jakes made some big plays Tuesday, with quite a bit of help from their receivers.
It was honestly one of the best days I’ve seen from the Toppers’ receiving corps, as everyone made both the routine and spectacular catch.
Pelesasa’s biggest score was on a pass to junior running back Bobby Rainey, who soared up to catch a ball well over his head in the end zone.
Jakes answered with an uncharacteristic long ball, a 65-yard bomb to senior Quinterrance Cooper for a touchdown.
Receivers Dexter Haynes and Willie McNeal also had some solid receptions.
If Pelesasa had any sort of lead over Jakes early in camp, I think it’s safe to say that Jakes has brought that battle back to neck-and-neck.
I’ll have a whole lot more on the quarterback situation, including videos of each of the candidates, at wkuherald.com later today.
Getting their kicks
We learned today that junior kicker/punter Casey Tinius has been suffering from a strained groin over the last few days.
In his absence, freshmen punters Hendrix Brakefield and Kevin Carrillo and freshman kicker Monte Merrick have handled the special teams duties.
Western will definitely need the services of Tinius, however, because although each of his replacements have shown flashes of brilliance, not every kick or punt has been gold.
Merrick’s only field goal try of the day was from about 38 yards, and it came up about five yards short and to the right.
“We’ve got to have a kicker,” Taggart said. “That kicker’s got to be great. We’re going to make sure (Tinius) is healthy, and make sure he’s ready to roll for us, because we’re going to need some field goals.”
Whoever wins the punting job will have to replace standout Jeremy Moore, who was a bright spot in last year’s 0-12 season.
Brakefield, a Nashville, Tenn., native, is listed as the starting punter on Western’s fall depth chart.
“There’s competition there too,” Taggart said. “We need someone to step up and do that part for our team. We look for those guys to be great at doing that.
“Some of those guys, like Brakefield, will kick the ball 60 yards, and then he’ll come back and kick it 20. We need some consistency, because he can do it.”