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Marshall football: Taylor loves his new role with Herd ‘D’

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Jeremiah Taylor's new role on the Marshall football team - replacing Vinny Curry as the Thundering Herd's primary pass rusher - is one he adores.

"You're more of just a go getter," he said. "I love the switch. I get to be more physical, screaming up the field and doing the stuff I want to do."

And it's a role coaches say fits him perfectly. The junior defensive end's energy is what they feel makes the defense go and will help him attack the backfield.

Last year, when Taylor looked for inspiration in terms of intensity, he looked over at Curry. That's a pretty good role model - the 2011 Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year with 11 sacks and 22 tackles for loss, and a second-round draft pick of the Philadelphia Eagles. But above all the stats, Taylor most admired Curry's internal motor.

"I think one game, he came out here and played 80 plays," the 6-foot-4, 259-pound Taylor said. "His motor just didn't stop. Every play looked like the play before."

Defensive coordinator Chris Rippon said that sounds a lot like Taylor, too. He had a productive sophomore year, with 45 tackles, 7.5 for a loss and 3.5 sacks. And when Rippon wanted to gauge the defense's practice mentality, he looked at Taylor and not Curry.

"JT goes a million miles an hour and it there's a deviation in that, there's a reason," Rippon said. "I think it affects the entire team. His perception might be different if he said he looked at Vinny, but I looked at JT and I still do. He just plays hard and consistently."

That consistency isn't easy, said Taylor, a South Point, Ohio, native. Part of it is based on the body. A player already has chased ball carriers on first and second down and, when third down comes around, he still needs that one last burst to break through again and force a punt.

The other part of it, Taylor continued, is based on the mind.

"Half of it is mental," he said. "You know what to do because you practice it over and over and over. The other half is, 'OK, I've got to keep going, even though I'm tired. I have to push through and make sure I go here.'"

Taylor's job is a little different this year compared to last. In 2011, he was the Herd's starting rush end. His primary focus wasn't making a beeline into the backfield. There were different responsibilities in the passing game. While Curry stalked the quarterback, Taylor dropped into coverage.

"Rush is really hectic," he said. "You've got to worry about covering the flat or covering the curl. The defensive end position, you're just straight up the field or going to the 'A' gap. I get to go full throttle, just blowing stuff up."

Defensive line coach J.C. Price isn't worried about Taylor developing into an effective pass rusher. The way he has practiced this August, Price thinks he could be on his way to emulating Curry when it comes to the trophy case.

"He's had a great camp overall, taking the next step toward being an all-conference-type player," Price said. "I think his leadership skills ... he's a lot more vocal than he was in the spring and I think that comes from being more sure of what he's doing.

"J.T., you know what you're going to get every day," he added. "That's what I like about him the most. You get the same thing every day and that's all you can ask for."

Still, Taylor has some very large shoes to fill, and Curry won't be there to dominate the opposition's focus. Yet while the Herd breaks in a new starter at rush end - Alex Bazzie and Ra'Shawde Myers are battling for that spot - Taylor said the pursuit of the quarterback won't fall onto just one man's shoulders.

"I just feel like there's four guys out here rushing the passer," he said. "There's not just one guy. We all have to come out here and work. The plan was made. We all have to come out here and rush the passer together so it's not all put on that one person. I feel like I'll be able to step up into that role and do what I've got to do."

Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at derek.redd@dailymail.com or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/marshall.

 


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