Tag Archives: Kawaun Jakes

Monday football practice quick hits: Jakes named starting QB

By Zach Greenwell

Well, what started out as an uneventful Monday morning practice picked up when reporters were informed that sophomore Kawaun Jakes has been named Western’s starting quarterback by Head Coach Willie Taggart.

Taggart said that he’s been impressed by how Jakes bounced back from his basketball-related ankle injury in the spring, as well as how quickly he’s picked up the West Coast offense. Taggart also said that having not seen much of Jakes in the spring, he was surprised by his ability to throw the ball.

Junior Matt Pelesasa will continue to back up Jakes in the No. 2 slot, and Taggart insinuated that true freshman Brandon Doughty will not automatically redshirt. The Toppers only have three quarterbacks on roster, so Taggart said Doughty will travel with the team and would be used in an “emergency situation.”

This is the fifth straight year that Western has had a different starting quarterback to start the season — Jakes, Brandon Smith in 2009, K.J. Black in 2008, David Wolke in 2007 and Justin Haddix in 2006.

I’ll have plenty more on the QB situation — including quotes and video from Taggart, Jakes and Pelesasa — at wkuherald.com later today.

A few other notes:

— Taggart said that the rest of the depth chart for Nebraska would start to fall into place over the next couple days. He also said that the team will firmly turn its attention to the Huskers later in the week.

— Junior running back Bobby Rainey sat out his fourth straight practice with a sore shoulder today, but Taggart officially went on record that he’d just prefer to let Rainey sit for right now and “save it for Nebraska.”

— The Herald’s still working to find out the latest on the “Antonio Andrews to Western” whispers. Andrews, a former Fort Campbell standout and Kentucky Mr. Football, is no longer on Air Force’s roster and is rumored to be coming to Western. No official word is out on that yet, and Western can’t comment until he’s officially on the team, so we’ll just have to wait and see.

We’re still working that from different angles, however, so stay tuned.

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Tuesday football practice quick hits

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.”

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Monday football practice quick hits

By Zach Greenwell

Not a whole lot of news to report from Western’s football practice today, although we’re starting to see a lot more of quarterbacks Matt Pelesasa and Kawuan Jakes volleying for the starting job.

Jakes has really looked much better over the last couple days, and I’d say today was probably the best he’s looked so far in camp.

Jakes scored on a scramble of about 30 yards as soon as I arrived at Houchens-Smith Stadium, and he was able to make several solid short passes — basically chipping his way down the field.

Head Coach Willie Taggart said that Pelesasa didn’t have his best practice last night, and to be honest, I feel like Jakes has tightened that race considerably over the past couple days.

We’ll gain more perspective into that situation tomorrow when the quarterbacks become available for interviews for the first time after Tuesday’s practice.

A few other notes:

— Not only has the entire offensive line boycotted interviews until the Toppers win a game, but they’ve gotten their coach involved too. Offensive line coach Walt Wells was geared up to talk to me for a few minutes one-on-one today, until he was urged not to do so by his players.

I’ll have a feature on the veteran offensive line and their silence in a little bit, with some interesting quotes from Taggart and tight end Jack Doyle — assuming the O-line doesn’t find  a way to get the story off the Web.

— Junior running back Bobby Rainey has been wearing a yellow jersey in practice, and Taggart explained today that the jersey signifies that Rainey is not to be touched during drills.

Taggart said his first year at Stanford, when his running back corps went through six starters because of injury, persuaded him to protect Rainey, one of his biggest playmakers. Look for more on that in a notebook in a while.

— A few guys that stood out to me in practice today — running back Keyshawn Simpson, receiver Marcus Vasquez and defensive back Tyree Robinson.

Robinson was especially impressive, breaking up a pass in the end zone and intercepting another. If there was any position where I would expect some freshmen to break through, I’d imagine it would be in the inexperienced secondary.

Check wkuherald.com later tonight for full coverage of today’s practice.

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FOOTBALL: Pelesasa retains lead in QB race

There’s not a lot to say about Thursday morning’s practice.

The Toppers worked until just past 10:30 a.m., junior quarterback Matt Pelesasa took all the scrimmage reps under center and redshirt freshman Kawaun Jakes watched — off his crutches, but now wearing a brace around his injured ankle.

Head Coach Willie Taggart said he doesn’t expect Jakes to be back for Western’s first scrimmage this Saturday, which is open to the public and begins at 9:10 a.m.

Pelesasa wasn’t as impressive Thursday as he was Tuesday, but where his passes sometimes lacked in accuracy, he covered with firepower. Pelesasa threw an interception and had it returned by the defense for a touchdown, and he added in a few more passes that were batted down. With a 6-1 quarterback, that will happen.

But Pelesasa also threw a few balls that were grazed by defenders’ hands yet still made it through to a receiver. He’s mobile and obviously gets zip on the ball. Oh, and he doesn’t play pickup basketball. Taggart once again brought up that he can’t worry about the players that can’t help him (Jakes), and will only concentrate on the ones that are available (Pelesasa).

Not much mention was made of quarterback Courtney Dalcourt, who continues to rest an injured knee, and Tyler Bruce, who leaves early on Tuesdays and Thursdays for class.

Jonathan Lintner

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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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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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Western-MTSU: Halftime rundown

Middle Tennessee poured it on in the second quarter, scoring 31 unanswered points to enter the half up 31-10.

  • The Blue Raiders piled up 246 total yards (to Western’s 101) in the first half, and their 28 second-quarter points tied a record under MTSU coach Rick Stockstill set last season against North Texas. But 36 of the Toppers’ yards came on a late scramble by sophomore quarterback Kawaun Jakes, and a touchdown reception by senior receiver Jake Gaebler on the final play of the half tacked on 42 more.
  • Western is leading the time of possession battle by five minutes over MTSU, the strongest sign of the Blue Raiders’ ease of scoring. MTSU’s longest scoring drive lasted three minutes, 28 seconds, but the other five drives each lasted less than three minutes.
  • MTSU senior receiver Patrick Honeycutt has three receptions for 49 yards, all of which came on third down. The Blue Raiders are four-of-seven on third down, with the Toppers three-of-nine.
  • Following the opening field goal drive, Western committed penalties on the next three kick returns. The only player profiting from the Toppers’ poor field position is senior punter Jeremy Moore, who punted five times for 203 yards in the first half.

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