NCF Nation: Terrance Taylor

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

A weekend's worth of links to digest and several more from the morning. 

  • Things don't look good for Illinois defensive tackle Josh Brent, who likely faces felony charges after a misdemeanor DUI arrest early Saturday in Champaign. A warrant in another county had been issued for Brent after he failed to appear in court for driving with a suspended license. The Illini sophomore has court dates March 23 and April 30 and remains indefinitely suspended from the team. 
"Rietz said it's likely that felony charges will be filed later once prosecutors have confirmed his prior driving convictions," writes Mary Schenk.
  • Michigan defensive tackle Terrance Taylor sounded off at the NFL combine about former teammate Justin Boren, who transferred to Ohio State, Nicholas J. Cotsonika writes in the Detroit Free Press.   
"He ain't my brother if he transfers to Ohio State," Taylor said. "I'm a Michigan man. Nah. He made his choice. He's a good player. He's my friend. But brother? No."

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Terrance Taylor knows Michigan's season can't be salvaged along the banks of the Olentangy River. He knows most people have attached weights to the Wolverines and tossed them in the deep end weeks ago.

  

But Taylor also knows that the Michigan-Ohio State game, no matter the circumstances, always has a lasting effect on memories and perceptions of both teams.

To illustrate this, the Wolverines senior nose tackle recalled the last time the program was near the top of college football, ranked No. 2 nationally and headed to Columbus to face the top-ranked Buckeyes in 2006.

Michigan lost a wild game, 42-39.

"People don't talk about the great class that we had or the great games that we played in or how we led the nation in rush defense," Taylor said. "They talked about how we lost to Ohio State and the penalty [Shawn] Crable got on the sideline.

"It has proven over the years that [the good things] don't matter. To a lot of people, it matters how you finish out the season."

Taylor understands that the wounds from this season won't heal even if Michigan beats Ohio State on Saturday in what would be the greatest upset in the 105-year history of the rivalry.

People won't forget Toledo or the sputtering offense or poor defensive performances against Illinois and Purdue. People won't forget a school-record eight losses and Michigan's first losing season since 1967.

But there's plenty to be gained Saturday (ABC, noon ET) for both squads.

(Read full post)

Big Ten helmet stickers

September, 28, 2008
9/28/08
12:33
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

An exciting first weekend of Big Ten play is in the books. Penn State has established itself as the class of the conference, while Ohio State could be surging soon behind Beanie Wells and Terrelle Pryor. Michigan resurrected its season, while Northwestern and Michigan State continue to roll.

Helmet sticker time.

Penn State WR Derrick Williams -- The senior became the first Penn State player under coach Joe Paterno to rush for a touchdown, catch a touchdown pass and score on a special teams return in the same game. Williams made six catches for 75 yards and had a 94-yard kickoff return for a touchdown that put Penn State up 31-17 in the fourth quarter. Williams is averaging 36 yards per runback this season.

Michigan State RB Javon Ringer -- By this point, this guy deserves his own custom-designed helmet sticker. Ringer continued his feverish pace against Indiana, rushing for 198 yards and a touchdown on 44 carries. Ringer's 681 rushing yards in the last three games marks the best three-game stretch for a Spartans running back in team history.

Michigan's defense -- Too many contributors on this unit to pick just one. The Wolverines survived myriad miscues by the offense and performed in pressure situations in a historic comeback against No. 9 Wisconsin. From defensive end Brandon Graham (3 sacks, 2 forced fumbles) to nose tackle Terrance Taylor (8 tackles, fumble recovery) to linebacker John Thompson (INT return for touchdown), Michigan's defense stepped up big.

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

 
 AP Photo/Tony Ding
 Michigan defensive end Ryan Van Bergen (53) dumps a bucket of water on head coach Rich Rodriguez after the Wolverines stunned No. 9 Wisconsin, 27-25, on Saturday.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Part of the credit for Saturday's historic comeback goes to the Michigan Stadium FieldTurf.

Unlike real grass, FieldTurf can't be penetrated by gophers, moles and other subterranean creatures. That's a good thing, because Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez wanted to join his furry friends at halftime.

"If there was a hole to crawl into, a bunch of us, including myself, would want to crawl in that hole," Rodriguez said.

Many of the 109,833 in attendance wouldn't have minded if Rodriguez had gone underground after Michigan's miserable first half. As the first-year coach and his players walked to the locker room trailing Wisconsin 19-0, the fans let them know exactly how they felt.

Coaches often talk about living in bubbles and ignoring distractions, but the boos bouncing around the nation's biggest stadium were impossible to block out.

"If you were anywhere in the Ann Arbor vicinity, you heard 'em," Rodriguez said, smiling. "The fans are frustrated. They want to play at a high level here, and that's OK. I hope they're not booing the kids, they're booing the coaches. We have to take it as coaches.

"But I didn't see a lot of people leave."

Michigan's new uniforms are embroidered with Bo Schembechler's famous saying: "Those who stay will be champions." Those who stayed at the Big House on Saturday afternoon were witnesses to history.

The Wolverines went from incompetent to inspired, from hopeful to heartened, from futile to unstoppable, all in a blink of an eye.

They rallied from a 19-0 halftime deficit to beat ninth-ranked Wisconsin, 27-25, completing the biggest comeback in Michigan Stadium history in the 500th game played at the Big House. They avoided a disastrous 1-3 start and won their 23rd straight Big Ten home opener.

"It [was] a defining game for this team," nose tackle Terrance Taylor said. "If we had lost, it would have been a setback. ... Now that we've won, we've got momentum going for the rest of the season. It's who we are."

(Read full post)

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

 
 AP Photo/Tony Ding
 Michigan cornerback Morgan Trent (14) pulls down Wisconsin receiver Kyle Jefferson (7) during the second quarter of the Wolverines' stunning 27-25 win Saturday.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- They're called sudden-change situations, and Michigan defenders have grown quite accustomed to them during the first four games this season.

"It's when we have to run on the field unexpectedly when the ball's on our side of the 50," Wolverines defensive coordinator Scott Shafer explained.

Shafer's defense entered five sudden-change situations in the first half Saturday against No. 9 Wisconsin. Five times the Wolverines kept the Badgers out of the end zone.

The defense's damage control bought enough time for a sputtering offense to stage an incredible second-half turnaround and rally to a 27-25 victory at Michigan Stadium. The constant back-to-the-wall jams usually take a mental toll on a defense, but the opposite effect holds true for the Wolverines.

"That's what's different from last year," said nose tackle Terrance Taylor, who had eight tackles and a fumble recovery in the comeback win. "We want to be out there when it's crunch time. It's fun. We like situations like that, sudden change and we've got to stop them for a field goal. The game's on the line. Stuff like that, that's what we play for."

Michigan's transitioning offense has repeatedly put the defense in compromising positions. In the opener against Utah, the defense limited damage and gave the offense a chance in the fourth quarter. Two weeks ago at Notre Dame, the Wolverines committed six turnovers, including two first-quarter giveaways in their own end that the Fighting Irish converted for touchdown drives of 11 yards and 14 yards.

Taylor and his teammates weren't about to give away another game.

"The good defenses that I've coached have all been the same," Shafer said. "It's been, 'Just put the ball down. Put it down wherever you want and we're going to come after you hard.' ... You look at the first couple games, we had a ton of sudden-change opportunities and we stuffed 'em. I'm proud of those kids. Those percentages are way up there on our board. They are getting a good sense of pride in those tough situations."

The pride, Taylor said, comes from being in superior condition, which has shown in the second half.

Wisconsin's desperation touchdown with 13 seconds left marked the first offensive touchdown Michigan has allowed after halftime this season. Several Wolverines players felt they were in superior condition to Wisconsin down the stretch.

"It's not just the shape, it's also a mind-set," head coach Rich Rodriguez said. "The way we practice lends itself to getting in better shape as the season goes along. Sometimes it takes a win like this to maybe prove that and verify that, that, 'Hey, the reason we run so much and our practices are up-tempo is so the games are easier."

It was only fitting that the defense, which allowed just 34 yards in the third quarter, put Michigan on top for good. Linebacker John Thompson, who received stitches in his chin after a first-half injury, returned an interception 25 yards to the end zone.

"A swing can happen at any time," Thompson said. "Sudden change is part of the game. We've got to fight."

Michigan D-line the reel deal

September, 11, 2008
9/11/08
6:23
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

On the field, Michigan's Terrance Taylor is a disruptive nose tackle with a fondness for dropping ball carriers in the backfield.

In the film room, Taylor is a 319-pound peanut gallery.

When Michigan's defensive linemen get together to review tape from practices and games, coach Bruce Tall's voice isn't the only one bouncing off the walls. Taylor always chimes in.

"If a coach yells at me for missing a play," defensive end Tim Jamison said, "[Taylor will] try to reiterate, like, 'Yeah, man, you did mess up on that play,' and ask coach to keep rewinding it, try to make us mad."

Taylor admits he never misses a chance to jokingly prod his linemates. But he's not the only one.

"Especially if somebody gets put on their back or misses a tackle, the running back makes 'em look stupid, I definitely want to see it over again," Taylor said. "They do the same thing for me when I do something like that."

Fortunately for the Wolverines defensive linemen, film-room humiliation has been at a minimum so far this season. After a poor showing in the first half of the opener against Utah, the front four has looked like the strength of a transitioning Michigan team, as many expected it would be.

Michigan has racked up 7 sacks in its last six quarters of play and ties for second nationally with 9 sacks on the season. Seven sacks have come from the front four of Taylor, Jamison, end Brandon Graham and tackle Will Johnson -- all of whom are returning starters. The group isn't too shabby against the run, ranking fourth nationally in fewest yards allowed (41.5 ypg).

"Because we do have a lot of experience that came back this year, we're looked upon as being the leaders of this defense," Jamison said.

Michigan expects another strong performance from the defensive line Saturday when it visits Notre Dame. Both teams are struggling on offense, and the game could be won at the line of scrimmage.

Last year's meeting with the Fighting Irish turned into a highlight reel for Michigan's defense, which manhandled a new-look Notre Dame offensive line.

Graham had a career-high 3.5 sacks in the 38-0 win, and Jamison also dropped Notre Dame's Jimmy Clausen behind the line.

"It was a pretty good memory," Jamison said, "but I'm sure Notre Dame is remembering it as well and they're going to be prepared."

Though the Wolverines expect to see an improved Irish offensive line in South Bend, their own expectations haven't changed.

"We're conditioned and we're ready to play four quarters hard, and run around and hit people," Taylor said. "We know what we need to do, and we're not going to let anything stand in our way."

No position group on Michigan's team comes close to matching the defensive linemen in terms of experience.

Taylor will make his 27th career start at nose tackle Saturday and has played alongside Johnson and Jamison since 2005. Graham, the only non-senior, led the team in sacks last fall (8.5) in his first season as a starter.

"I really think of them as my brothers," Taylor said. "We're probably the closest group on the team."

And arguably no Wolverines position group made greater strides during the offseason. Strength coach Mike Barwis' work with the whole team is extremely well documented, but quite possibly his biggest impact came with the defensive linemen.

"We got most of the records on the board, the squat and the bench press and the clean, stuff like that," Taylor said. "You want to be the best."

A chest injury limited Taylor in the bench press, but he increased his squat to about 700 pounds. Johnson did two bench-press repetitions of 545 pounds and improved in other areas, including speed work.

"When Barwis first came in, the power clean, I had like no technique," Johnson said. "I'm a lot more explosive now. My speed's also getting better, I feel, balance-wise and going in and out of movements."

The results are showing so far, but there's room for growth. Jamison said Tall wants greater consistency from the front four, starting Saturday in South Bend.

"We want to do everything that's needed to be the best defensive line in the nation," Taylor said, "which I think we are."

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Terrance Taylor and his Michigan teammates reacted how you'd expect them to when they saw a biting comment from the coach of a 3-9 team plastered around their training room.

They laughed.

As Michigan began its preparations for Saturday's meeting with rival Notre Dame, the coaches made sure players saw the statement Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis made to boosters during a speech in April.

Addressing his players' approach to the season opener against San Diego State, Weis said, "That's the first opportunity they're really going to have to make a statement, and then we'll listen to Michigan have all their excuses as they come running in saying they have a new coaching staff and there's changes."

Wait for the kicker.

"The hell with Michigan."

Tough talk from Weis, but the Wolverines are saving their reply for the field.

"He can talk from the sideline," Taylor said Monday afternoon. "We're going to talk with our pads. We laughed when we heard it, but that's about it. It's not going to get a rise out of us. That comment's not going to decide the game or decide what's going to happen when we get over there to Notre Dame. What's going to decide the game is when we put on our helmets and we come into their stadium and we get to flying around.

"We were amused by that comment."

It didn't surprise Michigan safety Stevie Brown. Brown, who looked at Notre Dame during the recruiting process, told the Detroit Free Press' Mark Snyder:

"When Charlie, Coach Weis, used to recruit me, he kind of had an arrogance about him, so I figured it's just him being him."

Though Notre Dame comes off the worst season in school history and Michigan is in the midst of a transition with new coach Rich Rodriguez, Taylor thinks the rivalry still has some spice. The senior defensive tackle is certain any excuses made Saturday won't come from Michigan, which has won its last two games with Notre Dame by a combined score of 79-27.

"We're not coming in making any excuses about anything," Taylor said. "Either you do it or you don't. We know what we're going through, we know what's going on, but we're just taking it in stride."

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Michigan is winning the game, but don't read into it too much. The Wolverines generated just 35 yards in the quarter and would be trailing if not for several Utah mistakes.

Despite having an All-American kicker/punter in Louie Sakoda, Utah's special teams have been downright awful. After Michigan went three-and-out on the game's first possession, Utes return man Jereme Brooks fumbled a punt, setting up a Wolverines touchdown. Then Sakoda had a game-tying extra-point try blocked by Michigan's Terrance Taylor. A personal foul penalty on a Michigan kickoff return set up great field position and the other Wolverines' score, a 50-yard field goal by K.C. Lopata.

Wolverines starting quarterback Nick Sheridan has taken advantage of Utah's miscues, but he had an interception called back on a penalty and had another one slip through the fingers of a Utes defensive back. The good news for Michigan is both freshman running backs, Sam McGuffie and Michael Shaw, look explosive. Steven Threet has yet to enter the game.

As expected, Michigan's playcalling has been fairly conservative, mostly short, safe passes. Sheridan hasn't looked good on the deep passes but seems comfortable with short routes.

Utah quarterback Brian Johnson looks like a senior, consistently finding holes in the Wolverines secondary. He hit Brooks for a 55-yard gain to set up a touchdown.

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

It's time to predict the Big Ten all-conference team for 2008. Some of the names you'll recognize. Others might be a little hazy at this point, but not for long.

OFFENSE

QB: Curtis Painter, Purdue, Sr., 6-4, 230
RB: Chris "Beanie" Wells, Ohio State, Jr., 6-1, 237
RB:
Javon Ringer, Michigan State, Sr., 5-9, 202
WR:
Arrelious "Regus" Benn, Illinois, So., 6-2, 214
WR:
Brian Robiskie, Ohio State, Sr., 6-3, 199
TE:
Travis Beckum, Wisconsin, Sr., 6-4, 236
LT:
Alex Boone, Ohio State, Sr., 6-8, 312
LG:
Kraig Urbik, Wisconsin, Sr., 6-6, 332
C:
A.Q. Shipley, Penn State, Sr., 6-1, 297
RG:
Rich Ohrnberger, Penn State, Sr. 6-2, 291
RT:
Xavier Fulton, Illinois, Sr., 6-5, 300

DEFENSE

DE: Maurice Evans, Penn State, Jr., 6-2, 264
DT:
Mitch King, Iowa, Sr., 6-3, 280
DT:
Terrance Taylor, Michigan, Sr., 6-0, 319
DE:
Greg Middleton, Indiana, Jr., 6-3, 279
LB:
James Laurinaitis, Ohio State, Sr., 6-3, 240
LB:
Greg Jones, Michigan State, So., 6-1, 222
LB:
Marcus Freeman, Ohio State, Sr., 6-1, 239
CB:
Vontae Davis, Illinois, Jr., 6-0, 204
CB:
Malcolm Jenkins, Ohio State, Sr., 6-1, 201
S:
Anthony Scirrotto, Penn State, Sr., 6-0, 192
S:
Anderson Russell, Ohio State, Jr. 6-0, 205

SPECIAL TEAMS

PK: Austin Starr, Indiana, Sr., 6-3, 198
P:
Jeremy Boone, Penn State, Jr., 5-9, 194
KR:
Marcus Thigpen, Indiana, Sr., 5-9, 193
PR:
David Gilreath, Wisconsin, So., 5-11, 165

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