Loss of Wolke hurt Hilltoppers' chances

Published: Saturday, September 1, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, September 2, 2007 at 5:50 p.m.

Western Kentucky coach David Elson expected to use two different quarterbacks Saturday against Florida.

Elson just didn't anticipate needing his backup so quickly.

In all, the Hilltoppers played three different quarterbacks in their 49-3 loss to the Gators. Starter David Wolke left with a concussion after driving Western Kentucky 62 yards on the game's opening drive.

Backup K.J. Black came in and performed admirably, completing 10 of 13 passes. But Western Kentucky was unable to move the ball as far as it did on its first series.

"I don't think we can underestimate how that affected us," Elson said. "We're always of the mindset that a guy goes down, hey, next guy has got to go and you don't blink an eye.

"We've got a ton of confidence in K.J. That's why we were going to play K.J. There's also a reason why David Wolke was named the starter. He's the guy that we felt was going to give us the best chance. Look what he did on that first drive."

The first drive ended with Western Kentucky stopped on a fourth-and-1 for no gain on the UF 10-yard line.

"I thought we had the yard, but the refs didn't see it that way," senior receiver Jamar Jones said. "That's the way the game goes sometimes."

Wolke, a transfer from Notre Dame, wanted to return to the game, but Elson decided against it after consulting with his trainers.

"If his left leg was off, he'd want to come back in," Elson said. "He's just that type of person."

Black said he expected to come in in the third or fourth series of the game, so coming in earlier didn't catch him off guard. The sophomore from Louisville said the largest crowd he played in front before Saturday was 3,000 people.

"It was a rush," Black said. "From the sideline, it's not the same as it is on the field. You don't think about anything. You just go."

Black left the game in the third quarter for a few plays with leg cramps, forcing third-stringer Brandon Smith to enter the game.

"K.J. came in and played with a lot of poise," Elson said. "I don't think he turned the ball over, which was definitely positive. I thought we moved the ball well and for the first time of being out there. ... You've got to be encouraged, but at the same time, three points is three points."

While Western Kentucky's quarterbacks were roughed up throughout the game, the Hilltoppers couldn't do the same damage on scrambling Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, even on a few chippy plays near the sidelines. Junior linebacker Blake Boyd drew the ire of the crowd after a late shove of Tebow into the Western Kentucky bench resulted in a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty.

"It was one of those heat-of-the-moment things," Boyd said. "I was chasing him down. When you're out there it's hard to tell if someone steps immediately out of bounds or how far out of bounds they are. I just kind of kept going. It's a good thing he didn't get hurt."

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