Big Guys up Front Crucial to Bears Success

Baylor knew it had several areas to improve over the offseason if it wanted to notch a few more victories in 2010, it is clear Baylor's defensive tackles got the message. (FREE STORY)

One of the storylines of the 2009 offseason was Big 12 preseason newcomer of the year Phil Taylor. His story is well documented, as he transferred from Penn State to Baylor, hopeful to make an impact in the Big 12. After a disappointing 2009 season, "Big Phil" got real serious about his impact.

Doing everything from dropping 35 pounds from his 350 plus pound frame to changing his jersey number, Taylor looked ready to turn some heads as the 2010 season came around. Baylor's head coach Art Briles made it known that Taylor would not have the entire season to prove himself, telling the media at Big 12 media days "we're going to pass judgment after six ball games. You know, after six games, we'll see where he's at." It's safe to say at this point in Baylor's 5-2 season, Taylor's job is secure, as his presence is becoming more and more menacing for offensive units in the Big 12.

In Saturday's big win at Colorado, Taylor was the Bears second leading tackler, coming up with 8 stops, 4 of which were solo tackles, 1 forced fumble, and 1 sack for a loss of 8 yards. It was clear as much as Colorado threw at Taylor, he was not going to be stopped.

Unfortunately for Colorado, Taylor wasn't alone in clogging up the middle of the defensive line. Fan favorite Nicolas Jean-Baptiste continues to improve and had 7 tackles to himself on the day, including 4 solo tackles.

Jean-Baptiste started his career at Baylor as a walk-on, but quickly showed Coach Briles and the staff that he was worthy of a scholarship. Now as a junior fully on scholarship for the past couple of seasons, he has proved to be an integral part of Baylor's defense. In Baylor's other conference win thus far in its 2-1 conference campaign, Jean-Baptiste came up with a big play stripping the ball out of the hands of a Kansas player and killing any chance Kansas had for building momentum in that game.

Against Colorado, the Bears also saw the return of Tracy Robertson, who started the first several games of the season at defensive tackle along with Taylor before going out with an injury. Robertson, when he returns to full health, will improve the depth at this improving position for the Bears. While not tilting the 300 pound scale quite like Taylor and Jean-Baptiste, Robertson, a converted defensive end, brings agility to the defensive tackle spot. And at 280 pounds, he's not exactly hurting for size himself.

In addition to Robertson, true freshman Dominique Jones saw action against Colorado, gathering two tackles himself. Jones, an all state player out of Oklahoma, was forced into action several weeks ago after both Robertson and still-injured Chris Buford were unable to go for Baylor. The Bears will need Jones to continue to develop and provide solid depth at the position as they continue the Big 12 grind.

As the season continues this Saturday against Kansas State and future pro running back Daniel Thomas, this group of defensive tackles will be called upon once again. If the Colorado game is any indication of what to expect, look for this group of players to be giving it their all to try to wreak havoc against the stout Kansas State running game.
Kickoff against Kansas State is set for 2:30 Saturday at Floyd Casey Stadium in Waco. Baylor is looking for Baylor Nation to hear the call to Rise Up and pack Floyd Casey as the Bears try to obtain their 6th win and become bowl eligible. Keep it locked on BearsIllustrated.com throughout the week to get ready for this big time matchup.


Bears Illustrated Top Stories