Weight: 184 lbs.
High school: Detroit (MI) Highland Park
Jersey number: #6
Last year: I ranked Taylor #14 and said he would be a backup cornerback. He made 86 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, 4 interceptions, 9 pass breakups, and 1 fumble recovery.
It was tough to read the defensive backfield going into 2013. It was clear that Thomas Gordon was going to start at safety, and it was clear that Blake Countess was going to start at corner. It also looked like Courtney Avery, previously a nickel corner, would start at the other safety or the other corner. Taylor was reportedly looking up at Avery until the injury, but then Taylor took over the starting corner job and didn't look back. (Meanwhile, Avery played both safety and corner but struggled in both spots.) Taylor played solidly all season and was perhaps Michigan's most consistent corner, while Countess had more of a knack for the big play. Taylor's season included 12 tackles against Michigan State, an interception against three solid Big Ten opponents (MSU, Iowa, Northwestern), and 4 pass breakups against Indiana. It's rare that a cornerback leads the team in tackles, but he edged out linebacker James Ross (86 to 85).
The 2014 season sees Michigan with a glut of cornerbacks, and it's almost frustrating to watch. There are so many good players that it's impossible for all of them to get a fair share of the playing time. The two most experienced guys - Taylor and Countess - have been running behind sophomore Jourdan Lewis and freshman Jabrill Peppers at times this fall. Lewis seems penciled in to start already, and the nickel corner position seems perfectly designed for Peppers. That might leave fourth-year players Taylor and Countess vying for the one open cornerback position, and that's not to mention sophomore Channing Stribling and senior Delonte Hollowell, both of whom have played quite a bit. If I had to guess right this moment, I would have to say that Countess would be that other starter with Taylor supporting both outside corners. How can an All-Big Ten player who was awarded Charles Woodson's #2 jersey suddenly become Michigan's fourth corner? With the way things appear to be shaking out, this is too high for Taylor, and if I'm being honest, I have no idea how the playing time at corner will shake out. It would be disappointing for Taylor to be a backup during his final season, but the best players have to play.
Prediction: Backup corner
So Thunder, set your projected line up for us in the Secondary including the Safeties position.ReplyDelete
SS: Clark (until Hill comes back)
I still think the SS position is going to have a few bumps in the road. The coaches may react by shifting someone like Peppers or Taylor over there, especially against a spread attack.Delete
Do you buy into the reports that Peppers may play CB when they only have 4 DBs on the field and slide down to NB when they have 5? If so, is Lewis or Countess the odd man out?Delete
What do you think the odds are of Taylor getting moved over to Safety? It seems like CB is a question mark because of the glut of quality players, and S is a question mark because of the wide open SS spot.
I don't like the idea of Taylor playing safety, so I guess I'm putting the odds pretty low. It makes sense to spread some of the talent out, though. In my opinion, that's where Peppers should be playing this year. It gives you three solid corners (and some depth with Stribling/Hollowell) and eliminates some of the riff-raff of the safeties (even with his warts, I'd probably rather have a freshman Peppers at SS than a redshirt sophomore Jeremy Clark).Delete
I don't think Countess will be benched, solely because the #2 Jersey. You don't just give that to anybody.ReplyDelete
Yeah Vincent Smith had to be the starting cornerback too....oh wait, Rich Rod didn't GET IT. Hoke does though, so he knows that MIchigan starts people based on jersey numbers, not quality of play.Delete
Well, safe to say your strawman wont be starting at CB.Delete
And I think his point was that Countess' performance probably warranted the number change and therefore we should expect good things from him.
I don't think he's saying Countess will start because he has the #2 jersey, I think he's saying that the fact that he was given the jersey is an indication of where he ranks among the CBs. The coaches wouldn't have given it to him in the first place if he wasn't the top of the group; that is, it's a piece of evidence that he's the best of the bunch (at least in the coaches' eyes).Delete
I don't get your whole RichRod-Hoke ramble rousing, though.
I (OP) was in fact saying I don't think Hoke would give him the number two Jersey this year just to bench him. Kind of respectful to the #2 Jersey.Delete
It's interesting how much our knowledge of the roster has changed over the past couple of weeks. I'd imagine that if you were re-ranking now, Taylor (#12), Ross (#13), and Bosch (#14) all would be much lower. I think the over/under on the number of starters there would have to be set at 0.5. Taylor and Ross still should see the field, but they're looking much less central to 2014 than they did at the end of last season. Guys like Miller, Lewis, Peppers, Bolden, and RJS look quite a bit more important than we (or I) thought.ReplyDelete
I don't really agree with a lot of that. Taylor looks like a backup to me at this point. Ross should still start over Jenkins-Stone. The OL is still a question mark. I would probably set the over/under at 1.5 for those two and Bosch. Miller is about the same level of importance to me - I think he's still the #2 center behind Glasgow, and the RG position will probably belong to Kalis whenever his back heals up. I would upgrade a couple of those guys and downgrade a couple, too, with Bosch looking the most "overranked" right now.Delete
Worth keeping in mind that the things reported in August often don't end up being reality. Last year's Taylor post talked about Avery starting over Taylor at CB, which was being reported or at least rumored, but didn't happen in the end.Delete
If Taylor is indeed benched, which I'm not convinced is the case yet, then it'll be a good thing for the program, because he's proven himself to be a quality player.ReplyDelete
I think regardless of who starts, we'll see a lot more rotation this year than in the last...a long time. Even in the last few years of the Carr regime CB depth was not a strength.
Agreed. If players like Taylor are getting benched, that speaks volumes about how good the guys jumping him must be.Delete
Is rotation in the defensive backfield common? I know there are some position groups in which rotation is normal (e.g., defensive line) and some that it's really unusual (e.g., offensive line). Do DBs tend to rotate or does the starting group tend to stay on the field?
It won't even necessarily be a matter of rotation. We'll play a lot of nickel packages where we have an extra CB in. Even then, the sense I get from the scrimmage last night is that Peppers is a better CB than Taylor right now, and Lewis may be too, not to mention Countess. We're deep enough that a starter from last year with 4 INTs and 86 tackles may be our fourth best cornerback this year. I don't think our coaches are foolish enough to keep him as a starter just because of experience, if he's not flat-out better.Delete
Jake Ryan didn't play a ton last night either. Why bother? He has nothing to prove.Delete
Same could go for Countess, maybe...
There often isn't that much rotation at CB, if any. But if the coaches are serious about getting aggressive and physical at the LOS, and there isn't much separation between 1st and 2nd string, they may rotate more often.Delete
Confusing, ain't it?ReplyDelete
The good news here is that it appears that there is real competition for playing time between real talented players as opposed to default guys playing because the cupboard was bare.
You won't know for sure of course until we get to conference play, but what we have going on right now it OK by me.
The other thing i like is the idea that we can keep fresh legs on the field despite somebodies offense wanting to pus the pace on us. Especially when it comes to big people and LBs.