Expectations were high for redshirt senior Calvin Taylor Jr. entering the season after recording 26 tackles and six tackles for loss and starting the last nine games of 2018. However, fellow senior T.J. Carter was the talk of fall camp and Taylor flew in under the radar heading into his final campaign. That is no more after 11 games in 2019.
The 6-foot-9 defensive tackle from Augusta, Georgia is tied for first in the SEC sack race with 7.5 and has forced three fumbles, collected three pass break-ups to go along with 30 tackles. He has become a real force in Kentucky’s 3-4 defense who will receive All-SEC honors and will hear his name called in the upcoming NFL Draft. Not bad for a former two-star/unranked recruit that was a super late addition to the class of 2015.
Today in the KSR Film Room, we are going to take one more look back to the UT Martin win and show you some of Taylor’s recent work. Sometimes sacks can be a misleading stat because often another player is responsible for creating the pressure that causes the quarterback to go down to the ground. Taylor has won plenty on one-on-ones this season, but sometimes it makes it a whole lot easier to get some help.
On third-and-seven with the clock winding down in the second quarter, Kentucky brings out their Magic package to rush the passer. Here UK has removed nose Quinton Bohanna and T.J. Carter to get their best pass rush group on the field. Calvin Taylor slides inside the left guard while Joshua Paschal moves to the interior. Outside linebackers Boogie Watson and Jordan Wright are in sprinter stances as they look to get a great just for the outside rush.
In what appears to be some type of slide protection, the left guard leaves the center all alone to take on Paschal and the former blue-chipper beats him with a great inside move. This forces the quarterback to make a quick decision. Either throw the ball away, take a sack, or step up into the pocket. He decides to take the the step forward and this is where Calvin Taylor Jr. steps in. Due to his size, he is able to see over the the double-team block and meets the quarterback when he moves up in the pocket. The result is a sack.
Here is a great look from the endzone camera.
In the offseason, new defensive coordinator Brad White mentioned that no individual was going to replace the production lost by Josh Allen. The Jacksonville Jaguar was the best defensive player in college football last season and it was going to have to be a team effort to replace the numbers lost. Through 11 games, Kentucky is doing a good job getting to the quarterback.
The Wildcats rank in the top-50 in sacks collected after finishing in the top-15 last season. A step back was expected, but it has been nice to see the defense avoid a collapse. There’s no question that Calvin Taylor Jr. has been the team’s best pass rusher all season, but there are a bunch of players pulling weight. Kentucky has gotten 4.5 sacks from Sam linebacker Boogie Watson while Joshua Paschal and Jordan Wright have combined for 6.5 at Jack. They have helped the unit build a very strong pass defense.
Heading into a Governor’s Cup match facing an offense that ranks 108th in sacks allowed, Kentucky’s pass rush will have a great chance to impact the game against Louisville’s offensive line and quarterback Micale Cunningham. Calvin Taylor Jr. will have an excellent shot at giving UK two consecutive SEC sack leaders.