- For those that missed part one, click here.
A now svelte, (relatively speaking), Terrance Taylor is telling everyone that will listen about his off-season metamorphosis. "I feel that now I am in the best condition of my life" was a frequent utterance of his during his meeting with the media earlier this week. Whether that results in the best performance of his life on the football field remains to be seen. For his part, though, Taylor is already convinced it will.
"If it is a 70 play game, I can play at least 50 snaps and give another guy that I know I can count on a chance to play," he said. "I know we are stronger mentally than the other team. We have been through a lot. We are better conditioned. You can't tell me different. I think that I am better conditioned than any D-lineman in the nation right now. You can't tell me different. We are going to be the most conditioned, hardest working team this year. You can say, ‘just prove it on the field.' That is what we are going to do."
It appears that Taylor and his comrades up front will have ample opportunity this season to back-up that assertion. All of the talk about the massive changes offensively has overshadowed some of the subtle *but still significant) changes defensively.
"They expect us to make more plays now," Taylor said explaining the new defensive philosophy. "Last year, a lot of times we were opening up things for the linebackers to make the plays. Nowadays we are attacking all the time. We are attacking all the time. Where we are making plays. (In practice Wednesday), we had more D-lineman making plays than anybody. We are always up field... stop run first"
That always up-field mentality obviously has a direct effect on the passing game as well. That's a necessity since the playmaking demands have increased at the back of the defense as well.
"I would say that this year we are playing a lot more press man-to-man," said sophomore corner Donovan Warren. "That is just the main thing… playing a lot more man-to-man… a lot more in your face aggressive (coverage). Hopefully we get some push from the D-line. That makes my job a lot easier that is going to be real key for us. Terrance has put a lot of work in the weight room, running, dropping some weight. He has done real well. That has been real big for us."
Now that Taylor has established himself as one of the team's top practice performers in practice, his voice is no longer in danger of losing the resonance it had previously attained.
"He has always been a vocal guy," Warren said of 300-pound teammate. "Now he is seeing his body changing, he is working hard, pushing himself, and he is being more vocal. This is his year… our year. (Taylor's vocal leadership) is real big for us."
Helping his team get better was clearly part of Taylor's motivation for returning to Ann Arbor for his final season. However, there were a few selfish reasons as well.
"I wanted to come back and finish and get my degree," he said. "I wanted to beat Ohio State. I haven't yet. I wanted to win a ring. Maybe six guys on the team got rings, and I want one. There is a lot that played into (coming back). I love Michigan. I don't want to have no regrets. (Had he left after last season), I felt I would have a lot of regrets. ‘I didn't do this, I didn't finish (that).' So I came back, and I am happy came."
If all goes as planned for Taylor, Michigan's opponents won't be quite so thrilled.