Taylor Providing Preseason Hype For Herd Defense
By Will Vance
Preseason praise rained down on the Thundering Herd offense this offseason. Junior quarterback Rakeem Cato was named to the watch lists for the Maxwell and Walter Camp awards, just to name a few. Junior wide receiver Tommy Shuler and senior tight end Gator Hoskins were named to the watch lists for the Biletnikoff and Mackey awards, respectively, in addition to preseason all-conference teams picked by numerous media outlets.
The defense, which struggled mightily in 2012, managed to get some preseason love as well. Senior defensive end Jeremiah Taylor was one of 22 players named to the Ted Hendricks Defensive End of the Year Award watch list.
The 6-foot-4, 255-pound Taylor was a team captain last season and was a solid presence on an otherwise-shaky defense. He accumulated 54 tackles, including 8.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks, while blocking two kicks, forcing two fumbles and recovering a fumble as well.
The veteran Taylor says that the accolades mean nothing without team success.
“It’s always nice to be recognized for the work you’ve done,” Taylor told Football.com, “but as you get older and mature all you want to do is make your team better because with team success will come the individual recognition.”
Taylor, along with redshirt senior defensive end Alex Bazzie, anchor a Herd defensive line that head coach Doc Holliday said is “light years” ahead of where it was last season.
“At practice, you hear Alex Bazzie and Jeremiah Taylor and those guys coaching just as hard as me and [defensive tackles] coach Price,” defensive ends coach Sean Cronin told Football.com. “When you have that it’s like you have four coaches on the D-line instead of two.”
While the defensive end positions are mostly held by seniors, the interior of the defensive line is full of youth that is ready to contribute, like 6-foot-7 redshirt freshman Josh Brown. Taylor told Football.com that the best way to help the younger players is getting them prepared mentally and physically.
“We play the most physically demanding position on the field and every play is going to be a street fight,” Taylor said of the defensive line. “Do everything within the rules, go hard as you can and things will work out.”
Taylor and the rest of the defense also will play with a chip on their shoulders after allowing more than 40 points per game last season, squandering opportunities given by an explosive, high-flying offense.
“We’re not settling for what we did last year,” Taylor said. “We come out here every day and remind ourselves before we come out that what happened last year cannot happen again.”
Taylor and the Herd defense will get their first chance at redemption Aug. 31 against former Mid-American Conference rival Miami of Ohio at Joan C. Edwards Stadium.