"Just three catches, but I just try to make plays," Taylor said. "Every time I touch the ball I just want to make a play. Anything I could do to help this team I was trying to do. My teammates, they believe in me. They are like ‘come on CT we know you make big plays so make a play.'"
Taylor caught a 32-yarder, which was his longest of the day and a 31-yard touchdown pass with just over two-minutes left in the first half to stretch the Tigers' lead to an unmanageable 28 points at halftime.
But, his biggest catch was a 14-yard reception that the 6-2, 198-pound receiver wrestled away from a Tennessee defensive back's hands in the Tigers' first drive of the game. If Taylor hadn't taken the ball out of the DB's hands, he would have been off to the races, Tennessee would have likely taken a 7-0 lead early and the game could have been quite a different affair.
"I ran a hitch route and I should have converted," Taylor said about the play. "My coach called me and he was like ‘hey, good play, but you know what you are supposed to do.' We had practiced all week and I am used to seeing the cornerback back off so much, but he surprised me. He broke on the ball and I said no. I told him no. When I was taking the ball I said no you are not getting this ball. This is my ball."
Courtney Taylor celebrates with Sam Rives after his touchdown catch in the second quarter.
With almost perfect execution on both sides of the ball in the first half, Taylor said he and his teammates did exactly what they planned to do to combat the hostile environment on Rocky Top. "That is what Coach (offensive coordinator Al) Borges said coming out here," Taylor explained. "He said there is nothing better than making 87,000 happy except for making 110,000 mad. So, that was our main theme coming out. We are going to shut these guys up early. I feel like we went out and we did that."
Taylor added that after hearing about the tough playing conditions in Neyland Stadium all week long, he wasn't rattled once the game started. "I really didn't even pay any attention to it," the receiver said about the crowd noise. "I was just focusing on my assignment. When I get in the huddle Jason would call the play and I was just focusing on my assignment."
The sophomore said that he thinks one of the biggest reasons they were able to take the Tennessee crowd out of the game so early is because of his team's offensive balance this season. "Basically, I feel like we are so talented all over," Taylor noted. "If you pile up to stop the run we have got talent outside that is going to make plays, and I think we did that tonight. We showed that we are capable of making plays.
And Jason, hey, you have got to take your hat off to him," he added. "He is our general and he led us through the storm."
All in all, Taylor said that he feels like Saturday night's big win over the Volunteers helped himself and his teammates make a bit of a statement. "Honestly, I think we just let everybody know that you are just going to have to respect Auburn," he explained. "A lot of people really don't respect us that much, but I feel like we opened some eyes tonight."