Tag Archives: Clint Bowen

WKU defense ‘hungry’ for renewed confidence

By Zach Greenwell

There wasn’t a whole lot said about Western Kentucky’s new 4-3 defense during Tuesday’s media day activities, but the scheme received rave reviews from the players in attendance.

“Our defensive scheme is coming along – I like it a lot,” senior linebacker Thomas Majors said. “The only difference is that instead of having a two-gap scheme, we’ve got a one-gap scheme. We just have one gap to control, so if everyone does their job, things should go well.”

Junior defensive end Jared Clendenin said he also prefers the new look to the old 3-4.

“Last year it was a lot more positioning, trying to get in position laterally,” Clendenin said. “This year we’re going downhill, getting in those gaps and firing off the ball. You don’t have to think as much this year – you’ve got one assignment and you just go.”

Read: Coaching staff looking for consistency in quarterback race

New defensive coordinator Clint Bowen said that the players need to work on polishing basic fundamentals and developing a tougher mentality.

“We just want to continue to build what we started in the springtime, and that’s getting in a defensive mentality in which those kids feel that when they step on the field, no one’s going to move the ball on them,” Bowen said. “Our kids did a nice job in the summer … so when they showed up yesterday, their knowledge level didn’t drop off – it actually increased from when we finished the spring time.

“You see them in practice – there’s not that lost look. Now they can get the call, stay focused and work on the small things.”

It was a rough year for the Toppers’ defense last season, and it was one that Clendenin said stifled the unit’s confidence.

The rebuilding of that confidence is an everyday process, Clendenin said.

“We stay hungry,” he said. “I can’t even explain how hungry we are. We want to get it, and we’re out there working hard every day.”

Turning confidence into results is all about a mindset, Bowen said.

The first four games of WKU’s season – beginning with Nebraska on Sept. 4 – will be challenging, but Bowen said a lot can be overcome with the right frame of mind.

“We have to get these kids to understand that giving up yards and letting teams have success against you is not acceptable,” he said. “Every time you go on the field, you have to go out there with that gunfighter mentality. Until they truly adopt that – that everything we do on defense has a zero margin of error – it’s going to become critical.

“I’ve got a lot of confidence in our guys that whoever they line up against, they’re going to be able to hold their own. We’ve given our kids money to play football too.”

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VIDEO: Taggart, Sanford, Bowen talk after Tuesday’s football practice

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VIDEO: Taggart, Bowen, Sanford talk after Tuesday’s football practice

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Tuesday football practice notes: Jakes injures ankle; Pelesasa shines

Just got back from Western’s fifth spring football practice, where the big news of the day was a sprained ankle suffered by freshman quarterback Kawaun Jakes.

Jakes injured the ankle playing pickup basketball, which left Head Coach Willie Taggart displeased to say the least.

“He was playing basketball, which is unacceptable,” Taggart said. “He’s a quarterback on this football team that’s learning a new offense. The time that was spent over there playing basketball he could have spent learning offense. I was very disappointed in him because he’s letting the whole team down.”

Taggart didn’t give any timetable for Jakes’ return, saying that he’s “not even concerned with that.”

“I’m concerned with the guys that are going to be out there to help us win ball games,” Taggart said. “We’ve got two other guys competing at that position – guys that want it.”

With Jakes on crutches on the sidelines, it was junior college transfer Matt Pelesasa who stole the show.

With fellow quarterbacks Tyler Bruce and Courtney Dalcourt out for class and a knee injury, respectively, quarterbacks coach Mike Sanford estimated that Pelesasa took about 70 reps under center Tuesday.

“Not only did he go out and play well and seize the opportunity, but he also got to share with the team and imparted some great wisdom on those guys,” Sanford said. “You can tell that he’s a winner. He’s been a winning quarterback at every level he’s played, and people are going to start gravitating toward him and his attitude.”

With Pelesasa leading the way, the Toppers’ offensive unit got the better of the defense Tuesday – a change of pace from the last several practices, where the defense had shined brightest.

Defensive coordinator Clint Bowen was in the faces of several players and said after practice that the unit’s effort was not up to par with last week.

“It felt like our guys took a step back defensively with their emotion and their execution,” Bowen said. “They’ve got to understand that every day is important, and I don’t know that we brought our best effort today.”

Taggart said that the amount of injuries thus far has been low, but among those that are currently sidelined are senior offensive linemen Mychal Patterson and Derrick Elder along with sophomore defensive lineman Rammell Lewis.

Dalcourt has been sitting out after tweaking his knee and re-aggravating last year’s ACL injury in an individual drill, according to Taggart.

Associate Athletic Director for Communications Todd Stewart said Tuesday that Saturday’s entire scrimmage will be open to the public. Media will also get their first chance to speak to players as one offensive and one defensive player will be available after.

Saturday’s scrimmage is scheduled to begin at 9:10 a.m.

-Zach Greenwell

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