Davion Taylor always was expected to be one of the most important pieces of the Colorado Buffaloes’ defense this season.
Yet in the first half of last week’s opener against Colorado State, Taylor wasn’t on the field much. Taylor explained his somewhat surprising absence as a schematic matter, as at first the Buffs believed the Rams were going to hit them with a more smash-mouth type running attack. After CSU instead exposed the Buffs along the perimeter, Taylor soon returned to his star back slot — a hybrid strong safety/outside linebacker position — and CSU’s attack slowed.
Taylor was all over Folsom Field from the start of Saturday’s memorable 34-31 overtime win against Nebraska, and it was the work of Taylor and his defensive teammates that paved the way for the Buffs’ rally after halftime.
“Honestly my first drive I was trying to get the jitters out,” Taylor said. “As I was playing I started reading everything, I knew what was coming. I was just, ‘Davion, make a play.’ Last week (CSU) was the personnel. They had a lot of heavy bodies and they wanted the heavy outside linebackers in. This game, we knew they run RPOs (run-pass options), so they wanted me out there for coverage and against the run, because I can do both. I just got out there and tried to execute.”
Taylor was a one-man dynamo against Nebraska, finishing with eight tackles — that mark ranked third on the team behind Nate Landman (14) and Aaron Maddox (9) — while also leading the Buffs’ secondary with two passes broken up.
CU’s defensive turnaround in the second half was even more dramatic against the Cornhuskers than against the Rams a week earlier. Nebraska had four possessions in the first half, none of which ended with a punt while two others ended in touchdown drives of 96 and 95 yards. The Huskers punted after each of their first four possessions after halftime while CU also forced a pair of turnovers.
“At halftime we made our adjustments, and we knew we are a better defense than what we were playing,” Taylor said. “We said, hey we just have to play for four quarters. We’re better conditioned. We’re the most physical. Coach Tucker is always preaching that. In the third and fourth quarters…after we got that first stop, we just had to keep doing it. And we just kept on doing it.
“Our goal was the first time out there (in the second half) to get a three-and-out. That’s what we did. We got the three-and-out and that momentum continued. We just continued to do that throughout the game.”