Confidence High For Tiger Receiver

Sophomore Courtney Taylor caught Auburn's game winner over LSU Saturday in the Tigers' 10-9 victory.

Auburn, Ala.-–Confidence has never been a problem for sophomore wide receiver Courtney Taylor. One of Alabama's top basketball players coming out of high school in addition to his exploits on the gridiron for Carrollton High, Taylor was always on top of his game no matter the sport.

That was true until two weeks ago when Taylor had one of those days that before he had only read about.

In the midst of drilling the Mississippi State Bulldogs by a dominating ground game and two touchdown catches each by Anthony Mix and Ben Obomanu, Auburn was looking good in just the second game in Coach Al Borges' new offense. Almost everyone was happy, but Taylor wasn't one of them.

Entering the game against the Bulldogs, Taylor had caught at least one pass in every game of his Auburn career, 14 to be exact. In Starkville, Taylor had several chances to extend the streak, but failed to hang onto the football each time. It resulted in a very long week for Taylor and the receivers as a whole as seven drops drew the ire of Coach Greg Knox the next week in practice.

Courtney Taylor drops a potential touchdown pass against Mississippi State in the Auburn victory.

The extra work paid off for Taylor and company as they had a much better game against LSU last weekend in Auburn's 10-9 victory over the Bengal Tigers. Taylor had a huge day with five catches for 71 yards and the game-winning touchdown with just over one minute remaining in the game. Taylor says the game did wonders for the confidence of the team and individually heading into this weekend's matchup against The Citadel.

"It's just a confidence booster for me," Taylor says. "I just proved to myself that I have the ability to recover and refocus. I can't remember if I've ever had a game like that in my life from Pop Warner all the way up, I can't remember. In basketball I had a game where I started out slow, but I always got into a rhythm. I never had a bad game that I can remember."

A problem for Taylor and all the receivers last season was getting off the ball against press-man defenses like LSU employs. Cornerbacks Corey Webster and Travis Daniels dominated the Tigers coming off the ball last season in Baton Rouge in a game LSU controlled from start to finish. Taylor says this season Auburn is determined that isn't going to happen again.

"It was huge," Taylor says. "The whole week all we were doing was working on releases. We watched film to see which foot they put up first, which hand they shoot, it was a lot of work. It helped a lot knowing that after we practiced it they were in it almost every single play. I feel like it helped us a lot."

This week has been one for work on the Auburn practice fields as the Tigers have been busy correcting the many mistakes that plagued them against LSU. With several chances to score points, but coming up empty because of penalties and mental errors, Taylor says the victory was actually the best kind to have because it still makes you want to work when you look back at the video of the game.

"That's probably one of the best ways to win a game because you know you have to come back in and study what you did wrong," Taylor says. "It just proves that you have the ability to win in a situation like that when things aren't going right. Your defense is playing good and keeping you in the game. It's just a real confidence booster for us that we can rely on our defense or they can rely on us. We'll just go back and go over our mistakes and try to get better."

The job this week for the Tigers has been to get back focused after such a big win in their last game. Taylor says that coming back to reality hasn't been as hard as people think because this team has bigger goals in mind than just beating LSU.

"I wasn't ever on a cloud," Taylor says. "I was excited that we won the game, but at the same time I know we've got a long season to go. We've got many games left and I'm just trying to get prepared, get focused and get better."


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