Tag Archives: Mark Santoro

Second quarter recap: WKU 7, UCA 14

UCA senior running back Leonard Ceaser opened up the second quarter with a 51-yard toughdown run to put the Bears ahead 7-0 after a back-and-forth first quarter.
Following the UCA touchdown drive, the Toppers and Bears traded fumbles, then sophomore safety Mark Santoro forced a third fumble to give possession back to Western with 10:49 remaining in the second. Less than two minutes later, redshirt freshman Marcus Vasquez fumbled to return possession to UCA.
A pair of receptions to senior wide receiver Preston Echols put the Bears in the end zone on their sequential drive for the second time with 5:04 remaining in the quarter. When the ball returned to the Toppers, it took a rarely called defensive holding penalty on a Western punt to keep the drive alive.
Smith shook off a pair of hits and fell into the end zone with 24 seconds left in the first half, bringing the crowd to their feet and trimming the deficit to seven points.
Looking at where Western struggled last week, there appears to be some improvement. The Toppers are 5-of-9 on third down conversions and compiled only three penalties in the first half.
  • UCA senior running back Leonard Ceaser opened up the second quarter with a 51-yard toughdown run to put the Bears ahead 7-0 after a back-and-forth first quarter.
  • Following that drive, the Toppers and Bears traded fumbles, then sophomore safety Mark Santoro forced a third fumble to give possession back to Western with 10:49 remaining. Less than two minutes later, redshirt freshman Marcus Vasquez fumbled to return possession to UCA.
  • A pair of receptions by senior wide receiver Preston Echols put the Bears in the end zone on their next drive ,with 5:04 remaining in the quarter. When the ball returned to the Toppers, it took a rarely-called defensive holding penalty on a Western punt to keep the drive alive.
  • Smith shook off a pair of hits and fell into the end zone with 24 seconds left in the first half, bringing the crowd to their feet and trimming the deficit to seven.
  • Looking at where Western struggled last week, there appears to be some improvement. The Toppers are 5-of-9 on third down conversions (after being 2-of-12 last week) and were only called for three penalties in the half.

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Monday Luncheon Wrap-Up

Just got out of the WKU football Monday Luncheon, beginning the Toppers’ prep for Central Arkansas on Saturday.

Running back Bobby Rainey and defensive back Mark Santoro gave us words from the player perspective. One of the hot topics was the discipline the Toppers seemed to lack in Saturday’s 35-13 loss to South Florida (13 penalties for 124 yards). Rainey added that the team “cost ourselves in the loss with penalties and dumb mistakes.”

Rainey also said that despite a lacking passing game (84 yards), the running backs are happy to take on the responsibility of carrying the offense.

“As a running back, you want that kind of load on you,” he said. “And I know if I can’t go, there are two other capable running backs (seniors Tyrell Hayden and Marell Booker) with me that can get it done.”

From a defensive standpoint, Santoro offered some thoughts on the fact that WKU won’t be seeing anymore Matt Grothe-type quarterbacks this season. It was a frustrating night for a WKU defense that constantly got pressure on Grothe, only to watch him scramble out of the pocket.

“You have to give credit to (Grothe),” he said. “The guy’s a playmaker. He’s been doing it going on his fourth year now…But I guess it is pretty comforting knowing that we might not see a guy that might break the pocket quite like that anymore.”

Central Arkansas is no pushover Football Championship Series team. They went 10-2 last season en route to a no. 13 national ranking. Though Elson was asked if this Saturday’s game is a ‘must-win’ since the Toppers haven’t won in their past 10 games, he said the term is “not in my vocabulary”, and that the team expects to win every game it plays.

-David Harten

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Notebook: Western at Tennessee

Elson endorsing “Kiffin Mania”

Tennessee head coach Lane Kiffin’s off-season antics have created a buzz around Saturday’s game between the Toppers and Volunteers, and Western head coach David Elson is embracing the attention.

“There are people who may not know what Western Kentucky’s program is all about, or what level we play on,” Elson said. “So every time he brought attention to Tennessee, he brought attention to Tennessee’s first game, and it happens to be against Western Kentucky.”

Kiffin reportedly broke NCAA rules on multiple occasions, traded barbs with Florida head coach Urban Meyer through the media and raised the profile of his team’s season opener in the process.

Elson said at Monday’s media luncheon that every time the Tennessee coach’s actions drew national attention, all he could think was, “Thank you, Lane Kiffin.”

Tennessee receiving corps limited but dangerous

Tennessee has lost a number of wide receivers for the season opener (and beyond) this year due to injuries. Senior Austin Rogers, junior Denarius Moore and  junior Gerald Jones (the Vols’ leading receiver in 2008) will all be unavailable for anywhere from four weeks to the entire season, leaving senior Quintin Hancock, junior Brandon Warren and a trio of freshman at wideout.

Of those three newcomers, Western sophomore free safety Mark Santoro said the Topper defense will concentrate the most on freshman Nu’Keese Richardson, who Santoro said Tennessee will take advantage of with a variety of looks.

“They’re going to do a lot of different things with him,” Santoro said. “They’re going to put him at receiver, he’s going to be their punt returner probably, and they might line him up in the Wildcat (formation).”

Offense won’t key on Berry alone

Tennessee strong safety Eric Berry is considered one of the team’s marquee players, but junior receiver Quinterrance Cooper said the offense won’t do much to adjust to the heralded defensive back.

“We don’t have no Eric Berry package or nothing like that,” he said.

Cooper also said that the Toppers’ offense is preparing for their match-up with Tennessee in normal fashion.

“We just treat it like any other game,” Cooper said. “They’ve got Eric Berry, but he’s just one player.”

Toppers to profit off meeting at Tennessee

Regardless of the outcome at Neyland Stadium, Western will receive $700,000 for playing, according to a USA Today article by Jack Carey.

Some smaller programs agree to away contests dubbed “money games” against traditional powers, gaining increased exposure and leaving with a sizeable check. As part of its transition into the Football Bowl Subdivision, Western has traveled to play seven Southeastern Conference opponents in the past seven years, including Tennessee, and been outscored 264-42 in the first six.

-Jonathan Lintner

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