WKU football blog: Running rebound

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A return to the ground

I spoke with Western Kentucky senior offensive tackle Greg Ryan earlier this week about how the offensive line felt after WKU running backs only totaled 11 yards on 10 carries last week at Indiana.

And after a stern look crept across his face and his teeth began to grit, it was clear that rebounding from last week’s performance is weighing heavily on the minds of the linemen.

“We’ve definitely been getting after it,” Ryan said. “We’ve been emphasizing running the ball because that’s the kind of offense we are and we have to be able to do it in order to win.

“We got out here on Monday and got in the heat, sweated a little bit and got after it Tuesday and Wednesday, too – we’ve got pads on, we’ve hit, and just tried to simulate what it’s going to be like on Saturday.”

Ryan emphasized exactly how personal the offensive line takes a poor rushing performance. When one occurs, the wait between then and the next game can be unbearable. 

“We take it personal, we do so because the running game is squarely on our shoulders,” Ryan said. “And we take pride in it, and we know that if we don’t get the job done then the blame’s going to come to us and it’s all our fault.

“We’re going to have to prove ourselves on Saturday, we’ve had some doubts and skepticism from people and we’re going to have to go out and prove everybody wrong.”

Etheridge playing time

WKU coach David Elson said Thursday that recently reinstated cornerback Rashad Etheridge will see game action on Saturday, he just doesn’t know how much.

While Etheridge will not be a part of the team’s kick return squads, Elson said having a vocal and experienced player back in the defensive backfield will do wonders for the youthful group.

“He’ll play, I don’t know how much, but he’s done everything we’ve asked him to do and it’s just a matter of whether or not he’s ready to be back in with game speed,” Elson said. “He’s had a good (practice week) and I think he’s ready to get back out there and contribute.

“He can be a tremendous help, he’s very smart, he’s a great communicator … and just having him back in the locker room and at practice is going to only help those young guys.”

Injury updates

With the knee injury to starting strong safety Orlando Misaalefua keeping him sidelined for at least one week, Elson said that redshirt freshman – and Bowling Green High School product – Ryan Beard will get the first start of his career Saturday.

Beard was listed above Misaalefua on the depth chart after spring practice, but lost the job to the sophomore during fall camp. That said, Beard saw plenty of action last Saturday and has had plenty of practice time with the first unit this offseason. 

The only other notable player that seemed to be hampered this week was junior wide receiver Jake Gaebler. Gaebler did not practice Tuesday or Wednesday, taking time to rest his ailing back. But Elson said that he will work out Thursday and Friday and will be ready to go come Saturday.

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