Western Kentucky head football coach Willie Taggart said safety Jon Dowling did not intend to hurt anyone on the helmet to helmet hit he made in last week's game against Southern Mississippi receiver Tyre Bracken.
|Taggart questions rule|
“It is a new rule the league is implementing and Jon fell victim to it. He did not try to do anything maliciously,” said Taggart, the former Manatee High quarterback great. “Jon did not try to go helmet to helmet and there is no way to stop guys who are trying to do their best and playing hard. The league needs to look at this rule because there are a lot of kids who play hard and are not trying to hurt anyone. You can’t expect them to change overnight.
“Unfortunately the ruling is in. I didn’t expect it to be overturned on the appeal. We’ve just got to learn from it and move on.”It means the Hilltoppers will face Sun Belt Conference defending champion Arkansas State without their best defensive back. Dowling is tied for the national lead in FBS with two others for the most interceptions.
It also means he will be back with the scout team this week after playing all of last season with the scout when he was forced to sit out after transferring from Florida.
Tyrone Williams, a former Green Bay Packer defensive back who played for Manatee, said the head to head collision was basically unavoidable because Bracken is 5-8 and Dowling is 6-3.“Dowling is tall and the receiver is short and the defender goes down to make a hit and this is going to happen. You could tell he did not mean to do it,” Williams said
****Taggart said he was not surprised that former Manatee High standout Leon Allen turned his best game last week. The true freshman running back ran for a career high 132 yards in the Hilltoppers 42-17 victory over Southern Mississippi.
“Leon showed in training camp what he could do and last week against Kentucky we didn’t play him enough,” Taggart said. “He is a very strong, powerful runner and keeps his feet moving. He has been everything we thought he would be and is very fundamentally sound.”
Ben Axon, another former Manatee High standout, had his best collegiate game at the Division I level with 31 yards on six carries.
Axon did not play football last year and joined the WKU football team late this summer. Taggart said he is still working out the kinks and trying to get back into football shape.
“Ben has been helping us quite a bit on special teams and was able to get some carries. The more he plays, the better he will become,” Taggart said. “He understands we are not giving anybody anything. We have guys who have been here long before Ben was here. He is working work and has been on the kickoff and punt return teams.”