WKU football blog: Thursday mini-scrimmage

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Getting defensive

Although Tuesday’s first mini-scrimmage finished in a virtual stalemate, the defense appeared to have the upper hand Thursday, making several third-down stops and allowing only one score in full-field drills. 

After a spring session that saw the offense dominate virtually all scrimmages, seeing the defense begin to emerge is a confidence booster for the Hilltoppers. 

“It felt like an entire defense today, I think we played together well,” junior linebacker Blake Boyd said. “You learn from everything and I think we were down a little bit last time. But we went in, watched film and studied and really played a lot better today.”

While the defense has battled injuries all spring and fall, two key contributors – cornerback Marcus Minor and linebacker Alonzo Higgins – appear to be close to returning. With those two veterans back in the lineup, intrasquad competitions might soon start favor the defense.

A healthy Boyd

Among the most overlooked injuries for WKU last season was the one suffered by Boyd. A knee injury required off-season surgery, but the 6-foot-3, 250-pound force has been back and better than ever this fall. 

With WKU facing the toughest schedule in school history this season, having two linebackers with the size and speed of Boyd and Higgins should help the Toppers compete.

“I feel real good, I’ve had a lot of great help from the trainers and support from the rest of the team to get back and everything just feels really good,” Boyd said. “It feels good to be out here just scrimmaging, it’s been a long time since I’ve been out on the field at all and just being back out here to help my team is what I’m happy about the most.”

Freshman action

One of the most impressive drives during Thursday’s mini-scrimmage was led by a pair of freshman quarterbacks.

Freshmen Kawaun Jakes and Marcus Vasquez split time, and both showed their ability to run and throw the ball during the scrimmage’s opening drive, leading a backup unit 80 yards for a touchdown.

The scoring play saw Vasquez throw a 10-yard strike to a brand-new target – 6-foot-4 freshman Dexter Haynes, who moved to wideout from quarterback earlier this week.

Scrimmage standouts

Junior running back Marell Booker continued to look extremely powerful with the ball Thursday, bursting through holes for several double-digit gains. Booker, along with starter Tyrell Hayden, has clearly been the hardest runner during contact drills this season and could find himself climbing the depth chart.

Defensively, junior linebacker L.J. Harbison had another strong practice, making five stops during the scrimmage. Harbison could challenge Higgins – as well as junior Darvis McBride and sophomore Chris Bullard – for extended playing time at inside linebacker.

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