Western Kentucky held its sixth spring practice Wednesday at Houchens-Smith Stadium. Comments from defensive coordinator Lance Guidry and coach Willie Taggart below.
Some walk-ons have been added to the roster.
Dakota Brown is a 5-6, 170-pound running back from Smyrna, Tenn., that led Lindsey Wilson College in rushing last year with 636 yards and five TDs.
Tony Rowland is a 5-7, 190-pund running back from Brentwoood, Tenn., that held interest from WKU and Vanderbilt coming out of Ravenwood High in 2010.
Daniel Padilla graduated from in 2010 from North Radcliffe High. In 2009, he made one field goal and 13 extra points.
David Lipps is a 6-1, 240-pound long snapper from Floyd Central High in Floyd Knobs, Ind.
Defense: “Lot of carry over from last fall. We still have some pieces of the puzzle to put together. Of course, we lost a really good corner last year in (Derrius) Brooks and we lost two really good ends (Jared Clendenin and Bo Adebayo). We’re trying to get some depth there at that position. We know we’re gonna get some more with two junior college kids (DB Brett Harrington, DL Calvin Washington). It’s going good right now, though.”
Second year: “They’ve gotten a lot better running the defense for, I guess, three semesters now from the spring, fall and now spring again. A lot of carry over, a lot of verbage – so the communication is better, I think they’re playing faster. Still not perfect, but getting a lot better.”
Individuals: “We got (senior Cole) Tischer playing defensive end right now. We have some young kids. At the corner position we’ve kind of been mixing and matching. (Senior Jamal) Forrest, (junior) Arius Wright’s playing there – which he’s put in a lot of reps. (Sophomore) Cam Thomas – we got some freshmen guys at defensive end that are doing well, too. We’ll see how it goes, we’ll work through this spring and see how the depth chart ends up and then we’ll get a couple JUCO kids in in the fall. It’s gonna be a real exciting competition.”
Wednesday’s practice: “We had our ups and downs. I think we came out a little sluggish from the get-go in some of the Oklahoma-type drills. Early on we had different situations and we didn’t do real well. But like always, they always respond. That’s the thing about the defense, they respond and they have confidence about ‘em. Today wasn’t one of our better days but I still thought it was a good day. I thought we were more productive than the offense today, but the offense did make a lot of plays on us.”
Standouts: “One guy I’d have to say is (senior DB) Jamal Forrest. Jamal, of course, last year he had surgery in the spring time on his shoulder and we didn’t get a lot out of him because he was still banged up a little bit. I think he’s had like four touchdowns on defense already. Had two or three picks for touchdowns and he’s had a fumble recovery for a touchdown. He’s been very good. He’s playing with the 1s at corner, he’s playing one Nickel. It’s been real nice. Other than that everyone else is pretty much the same. We got some young guys who I think are getting better, but haven’t arrived yet.”
No yellow jerseys? “No one has earned that. We’re getting away from the yellow jersey. We’re a good enough football team now, we’re starting to get the depth that we need and we want. We don’t need that yellow jersey because of those things we talked about with the depth. A guy goes down, we have somebody replace him so we’re not concerned about injuries from that standpoint.”
Wednesday practice: “Good. It went back-and-forth. I thought offense came out excited and had some enthusiasm and some juice when they came out here and got after the defense early. Throughout practice we had some situation scrimmage and our defense responded well. It’s kind of the way spring has been going this spring – it’s going back-and-forth. I think that’s a good thing. Both sides of the ball are getting better and we don’t have one team dominating the other one. I think that’s a sign of getting better, but I don’t want guys to be satisfied. When the offense scores I want the defense to be ticked off – I don’t want anyone to score on us. On offense, if you don’t get the first down, you should be upset. Our guys are getting after it and you see both sides of the ball doing some really good things. We’re getting better as a football team.”
Aside to defensive lineman Jamarcus Allen: “Not being satisfied when the offense scores. He was like, ‘Oh you guys finally scored.’ No, it’s not, ‘You finally scored.’ We don’t let anybody in the end zone. I’m trying to get him to have that mentality. No one scores, we’re not satisfied, we’re ticked off when someone gets in the end zone – that is our house. We don’t let anyone in there. I just want him to understand that. It’s not OK, I don’t care if it’s one touchdown – that’s all they need is one touchdown. Just getting our guys to understand that, we wanna be the best in the country defensively. When we let guys in the end zone, we can’t be the best.”
Offense: “I think our running backs are doing some good things, both (junior) Keshawn (Simpson) and (junior) Antonio (Andrews) – and they’re different. And (sophomore) John Evans got in there and I think those guys are stepping up to the challenge of replacing Bobby (Rainey) and they’re getting in there and doing some good things for us. There’s still a long ways to go. I think the big thing for those guys is we’re not asking them to be Bobby Rainey. We want them to be who they are to help this football team. Those guys are starting to understand that and they take pride in that running back position. (Junior) Nick Baisch, he’s coming out and doing some really, really good things at the fullback position. Our tight ends are what they are. They handle their business. Good to see (sophomore wide receiver) Willie McNeal back. Willie’s back out there making some big-time plays for us. That’s exciting to see.”
“Offensively we talk about celebrating and having fun when we score, especially in practice. It’s hard to do and when we do, we want to celebrate. Our defense celebrates all the time. If they get a two-yard stop, they celebrating. Offense: ‘C’mon, when you do something, we wanna celebrate.’ “