Tag Archives: Thomas Majors

NOTEBOOK: Pelesasa and Jakes take small lead in WKU QB race

Matt Pelesasa, a junior transfer from the College of San Mateo, lines up under center Friday at Western's fifth practice of fall camp. Pelesasa is listed as the No. 1 quarterback ahead of incumbent starter Kawaun Jakes. PHOTO BY ARIANA MLAUGHLIN/HERALD

By Zach Greenwell

After four days of Western’s quarterback situation sitting at a stalemate, Head Coach Willie Taggart said after Friday’s practice that there’s finally been some separation.

Taggart said junior Matt Pelesasa and incumbent starter Kawaun Jakes have lifted themselves slightly above true freshman Brandon Doughty.

Kawaun Jakes is working as the No. 2 quarterback during Western's fall camp, but the starting spot entering the 2010 season remains open. PHOTO BY ARIANA MCLAUGHLIN/HERALD

“I would say Jakes and Matt are really close, and Brandon’s coming, but he’s not far,” Taggart said. “For him to be a freshman and this be new to him, he’s picking it up well, and that speaks volumes of the kid. You’ve got three guys you can probably do something with in our offense, and it has to be that way.”

Pelesasa earned most of the team’s reps in the spring while Jakes was out with an injured ankle.

Doughty, a Rivals three-star recruit from Florida, has closed the gap to the returnees faster than expected, Taggart said.

But while a tight race is healthy for competition, Taggart said someone will eventually have to break away from the pack.

“Guys go out and make good throws, and then the other will come in and do one, and that’s what it’s going to be about,” he said. “We’re not anywhere close to naming one because of how close they are. But one of them’s going to have to separate himself because we’re only going to have one quarterback.”

Making mismatches

One of the biggest highlights of Friday’s practice was the role of different running backs in Western’s passing game.

Junior backs Bobby Rainey and Avery Hibbitt caught several passes from each of the team’s three quarterbacks throughout the day.

Rainey had the most thrilling — a reception of at least 40 yards for a touchdown from Pelesasa.

Pelesasa scrambled out of the pocket and threw the desperation pass to Rainey off his back foot, but Rainey hauled it in on a vertical route for the score.

Hibbitt, a former Bowling Green High School standout, was also heavily involved in the offense, catching several slants across the middle for good gains.

“He’s really good with the ball in his hands, and we’ve got to do a good job as a coaching staff of putting the ball in his hands and let him do what he’s good at,” Taggart said of Hibbitt. “That’s why we put him back there, and I think he’s excited about it because it lets him do what he does best.”

Related: Energy not an issue at Friday’s practice, but discipline in the works

Hibbitt was recruited as a running back by the Western coaches – including Taggart during his first stint in Bowling Green– but eventually switched to the defensive backfield. It was announced at Monday’s first practice that Hibbitt has returned to his original position this season.

“I think Avery knew he’s an offensive player,” Taggart said. “I told him, ‘I just don’t see the emotion in you … playing defensive back.’ He’s showing it out there, and his teammates are starting to see it.”

If Taggart has it his way, the added complexity in the receiving game won’t end with Rainey and Hibbitt.

Taggart said the West Coast offense allows a team to exploit all kinds of mismatches, which will be the Toppers’ ‘bread and butter.’

“You can utilize all of your skill guys to make plays for us,” he said. “We’ve got to do that with mismatches and stuff. It’ll help us out as a football team to be able to do that, and to get in some passing formations without getting in the pass formation. It’s great to be able to get out three-wide and not have three receivers in there.

“To me, it goes back to backyard ball. Don’t think a lot, and act like you’re in the backyard — run a five-yard cut and then put a move on them. Those guys are catching on to that, and it’s good because we had a successful day throwing the ball to the backs.”

Getting hyped on D

When freshman defensive back Ty Scott intercepted Doughty during an 11-on-11 drill, Taggart said he heard one thing that concerned him — silence.

“I told our defense, ‘When you guys do something, I want you to celebrate. You got an interception and no one said anything.’ I don’t like that. That’s what we’re out there to do, and that’s big-time stuff. I don’t care if it’s in a practice or a game – you’re out here working hard to do it, so go celebrate with them.”

Senior linebacker Thomas Majors agreed that the defense wasn’t as amped as the day before.

Video: Majors talks defense after Friday’s practice

“It wasn’t a bad practice, but it wasn’t where we needed to be at,” Majors said. “We had a lot of enthusiasm yesterday, and I think we need to keep that every day. We didn’t take a step back, but we just need to keep the juice when we’re out there on the field.”

“Juice” has been Taggart’s new go-to catchphrase this fall — the new “Chasing Greatness,” if you will. Several of the players — like Majors — have adopted the term, but Taggart said he wants them to show it on the field as well.

“Don’t just act like, ‘That’s what we do,’ and walk off,” he said. “That doesn’t happen all the time, so when it does, let’s have fun together as a team.”

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Western 0, North Texas 7 (11:13 first quarter)

The Mean Green struck first after a methodical march down the field ended on a two-yard rushing touchdown by sophomore running back James Hamilton.

  • The Toppers failed to gain possession on an onside kick to open the game. Junior linebacker Thomas Majors jumped offsides, and Western kicked away on the ensuing attempt.

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WKU-UT: Third quarter recap

  • To start the second half, Western prevented a Tennessee scoring drive for the first time since holding the Vols scoreless in the first quarter, then turned the ball over on downs on Tennessee’s 39-yard line four plays later.
  • Tennessee’s ensuing drive ended just before the Volunteer offense reached the endzone. Senior quarterback Jonathan Crompton’s pass was tipped by Western junior linebacker Chris Bullard and intercepted by junior linebacker Thomas Majors.
  • Senior punter Jeremy Moore was a bright spot for Western through the first half, but backed into a fourth down from Western’s four-yard line midway through the third quarter. Moore’re rugby-style punt managed only 39 yards and led to a one-play, 10-second scoring drive for Tennessee to give the Volunteers their first score of the half.
  • Offensive struggles for the Toppers carried over into the second half. Through 45 minutes of play, Western converted on only one of nine third downs and managed 82 yards of total offense.
  • Senior wide receiver Jake Gaebler recorded his first catch of the game with just over seven minutes remaining in the second half. Gaebler, known for coming up big against past non-conference traditional powers, hasn’t been a factor for most of the day.
  • With two minutes and 41 seconds remaining in the quarter, Bobby Rainey led Western’s first touchdown drive of the season, which consisted of nine plays for 66 yards in four minutes, 38 seconds. Rainey has seven carries for 45 yards going into the fourth quarter.

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WKU-UT: First quarter recap

  • In the first possession of the game, Western punted after a four-play drive, including a near-interception of senior quarterback Brandon Smith by Tennessee sophomore strong safety Eric Berry.
  • On Tennessee’s first possession, senior quarterback Jonathan Crompton threw an interception straight into the hands of Western freshman cornerback Jamal Forrest, who fumbled after being hit immediately. Junior linebacker Thomas Majors recovered for the Toppers, who responded by going four-and-out again.
  • Tennessee senior tailback Montario Hardesty then fumbled a screen pass from Hardesty for the Volunteers’ second turnover of the game, but Western only gained two yards on six plays in the subsequent drive and was forced to punt.
  • Western redshirt freshman Jamarcus Allen was injured on the second-to-last play of the quarter but walked off the field under his own power and is expected to return.
  • Smith opened the game 1-5 for four yards in his first start under center. The Volunteer defense held all Western rushers except senior running back Tyrell Hayden and sophomore Bobby Rainey for negative yards.
  • Tennessee enters the second quarter on Western’s 15-yard line after picking up a first down on the final play of the first quarter.

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WKU Weekly Media Luncheon Wrap-Up

Just got back from the WKU football weekly media luncheon. Along with head coach David Elson, senior wide receiver Jake Gaebler and junior linebacker Thomas Majors gave a few words on the Toppers’ season-opening game at Tennessee on Saturday. A few key points from today’s festivities:

  • Gaebler said the older players are preaching to the younger, less experienced players that the key to playing in the 101,011-seat Neyland Stadium (and believe me, there WILL be more people in there than that come game day) is to maintain focus and keep the motivation up.
  • Part of that motivation has been the rankings that have been more than prevalent in the media. Most publications that rank all 120 Football Bowl Subdivision teams have WKU at the bottom of their respective lists. “We’re using the fact that most people are overlooking us as motivation,” Gaebler said.
  • Majors made a point that the defense feels that Tennessee doesn’t do anything different than any other FBS team, but what they do, they do well. He gave the Power-I, pro-style offense that Volunteer head coach Lane Kiffin will be keen on, as an example. It’s a major prepping point for the Topper defense.
  • Elson’s biggest selling point is to the players is that they must stay within their means going into the first game. “You must stay within your system and should just try to cover what other teams might do,” Elson said.
  • Elson said he is more comfortable going into this season than in any other season before due to the fact that his roster is stacked with more talent. He attributed that to the rise to the FBS and to the name of WKU football getting out there more.
  • He also said that along with preparing for the noise of Neyland Stadium with loud music and silent cadences, Elson added that the players must train their minds for the rigors of playing in that environment.
  • Despite being out for the Saturday night scrimmage, running backs Marell Booker and Bobby Rainey will be ready to play at Tennessee on Saturday.

-David Harten

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