September 17, 2008

Black could see action Saturday

Though he was initially thought to miss anywhere from two, three or even four weeks, sophomore quarterback KJ Black has been getting back to full strength a little sooner than expected.

Black dislocated his left, non-throwing, shoulder in WKU's 37-13 win at Eastern Kentucky Sept. 6.

He's been soft-tossing since last week in practice. Today, Black was finally cleared to participate in non-contact team drills after being limited to individual drills since late last week.

"I feel pretty good," Black said. "I wasn't as bad as I thought I was gonna be, coming back pretty soon. I felt like it was better than expected the first day. They even got last week, debating whether they was gonna travel me or not last Friday, because I was doing pretty well. They're just taking it little by little. I feel fine though. I feel probably as good as I'm gonna get."

In his place, senior David Wolke has impressed the coaches with his handle of the offense, albeit without big numbers. Wolke completed nine of 18 passes for 84 yards and a touchdown at EKU and 14 of 25 passes for 116 yards and a touchdown in the Toppers' 41-7 loss at Alabama.

"I think I've been doing fine," Wolke said. "I approach each week the same way, prepared and ready to play. I'm not doing nothing different. Alabama's behind me and there was some things we looked at as a whole offense, that we needed to correct and I think we did."

In today's practice, Wolke got the majority of the reps in nine on seven drills, though Black did come in for some plays.

Wolke is all but named the official starter for Saturday's home-opener against Murray State, but Black could see some time.

"That's good at this point that he's healing like that," offensive coordinator Kevin Wright said. "That's an injury you just don't know about. We'll see how it goes. They're gonna release him for contact on Saturday, quote, unquote. Today was the first day he actually got to do team drills. They just kinda eased him into it. It's good to know that they feel confident that he's ready to go if called upon on Saturday. He still hasn't been in a live situation yet."

Black hasn't lost any zip in his passes, as he was throwing some crisp, well-placed balls today. He said he'll be ready for any possible action on Saturday.

"I don't know the exact plan," Black said. "I know I probably won't be out there the first series. I don't know if they're gonna give me reps every now and then or what. I'm just gonna do whatever Coach tells me to do."

Whoever will be calling the signals will again be without one of WKU's top receivers. Junior Jake Gaebler has been suffering from soreness in his back, stemming from when he took a knee in the back at EKU. He's suffered the same injury before.

Gaebler said today that he'll miss the Topper's home-opener but is looking to be back at Kentucky.

Either quarterback will be heading an offense that while abysmal in points in two of three games, has shown many positives.

"Maybe the scoreboard didn't show it, or statistically didn't show it, but I thought we played better last week than we had," Wright said. "We just played a superior opponent. I feel like we've gotten better the last couple of weeks.

"Saturday will be another test. We get to play at home for once. I think we've gotten better each week. Coming off the Indiana game, we wanted to focus on the running game against Eastern Kentucky and we were able to do that. Last week, we knew we'd have to mix it up a little bit and we were able to do that to a degree, not to the degree we wanted to, obviously. I think each week, we've gotten better and that's what we're looking at is weekly improvement."

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