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August 29, 2009

Offense Goes Deep In 'Mock Game'

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There's not too many questions now about how seriously redshirt freshman Marcus Vasquez will be used. Not after the opening play of WKU's Mock Game tonight.

With Vasquez split out, redshirt freshman Kawaun Jakes took the pitch on a flea-flicker and connected with Vasquez for a 69-yard touchdown.

"It's a new thing to me," Vasquez said. "I'm in it for the team, I'm in it for the Toppers, so wherever I can fit in, I'm gonna go and I'm gonna play. They put me wherever, I'm gonna go play and help this team win."

The play almost didn't happen. The rules and a format were similar to the spring game, which pitted the offense against the defense. But this time, there was little live tackling, allowing Jakes to get the throw pass off.

Nevertheless, it was a strong showing by the offense. Jakes played the first two series as the first-team defense faced the number two offense, then senior Brandon Smith led the first-team offense against the second-team defense.

Smith completed a deep touchdown pass himself, a 69-yard strike to sophomore wide receiver Derrius Brooks.

"We had a good day when it came to deep balls," Smith said. "That's something the coaches have been stressing through camp is that we've gotta be able to complete the deep ball. We've added that to our package offensively. It's something that maybe people haven't seen a lot the last couple of years and it's good to see that we progressed and we got better as camp went on."

Smith played in just two series and after the game, had ice wrapped on his right elbow and arm. Just precaution, Smith said.

"There's nothing wrong," he said. "I just don't wanna overwork it too much. Yesterday, I took a little time off throwing the ball. Today, I wet in there and did my series. Tomorrow, we're not practicing and Monday we have off, so the arm and the legs and everything will be good to go by next week."

With live tackling not an option, the defense was limited to what it could really do. But sophomore safety Mark Santoro said he and his defensive mates will still have things to take away from the game.

"The first thing we wanna do is refine our fundamentals," he said. "There's a lot we can do without going full tackle. Just pass coverage, you know your techniques and everything like that, the defensive line is still getting a good pass rush, the linebackers are still making their drop."

So it wasn't exactly the best indicator of what's to come beginning a week from today. Santoro might have made more tackles. And Vasquez might not have caught that opening touchdown. But it was still a glimpse at the possibilities ahead.

"Like I said, I just wanna get in where I fit in," Vasquez said. "If they feel like I can get in, help the team out, win next Saturday, I'm gonna go and produce. If they're gonna put me at punt return and return balls, then I'm gonna return balls and help this team win. It don't matter how many reps I get, as long as I can get in and help the team."


Check Out InsideHilltopperSports.com's insider's only look at the mock game, including an injury report.




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