Michigan cornerback Raymon Taylor was thought (by some) to be the odd man out in the battle at cornerback, but he was anything but in his first game of the year. The senior played one of his best games in a Michigan uniform, head coach Brady Hoke said Monday, and is ready for more responsibility.
He'll likely get it, starting Saturday night in South Bend in the last matchup with Notre Dame for the foreseeable future.
"Ray really played his best football game - maybe. Now, it's hard for me to throw that out there all the way, but he's had a great camp," Hoke said. "His leadership, his work ethic, his fundamentals and techniques have improved immensely. He's worked hard at it.
"[Cornerbacks coach] Roy [Manning] has worked hard with those guys. They've had a little more time to do that. I think he's done a really good job."
Taylor isn't big in stature, standing maybe 5-10, but he's more than held his own physically.
"I've been working a lot on technique through fall camp, just coming to work, just keep working hard technique wise," Taylor said. "[Hoke] said I had a great technique game. They didn't throw as us too much, but my technique was great."
They won't change the strategy for Notre Dame, he added. They'll continue to play aggressively even if the Irish throw a few over their heads.
"It's football," Taylor said. "If we press cover and they throw some long balls, whatever happens is gonna happen. We just want to play our defense.
"If we get beat on a deep ball, we'll keep playing our defense, snap and clear. Just keep competing. That's our mindset for this year. Be aggressive, just keep competing and working at it. That's it."
Sophomore safety Delano Hill will play against the Irish, Hoke said, but he'll compete with redshirt sophomore Jeremy Clark for playing time. Clark was around the ball Saturday and had a solid game with a few mistakes.
"Jeremy has come a long way," Hoke said. "We're excited about his development. He made some plays. There are some things that, from a leverage standpoint, we need to do a little better. But we're real happy with his progress."
Communication errors in the secondary led to two big passing plays and a touchdown.
"It wasn't perfect," Taylor said. "We went over the mistakes yesterday. We know this week we have to get our communication down.
"We missed a couple plays out there. This week we know it's going to be a challenge. We have to get everything down pat. We've got to be perfect this week if want to win."
They cleared up their mistakes in the meeting room Sunday, Taylor said.
Hoke said two areas in particular needed work on defense.
"The interior of the defensive front needs to be better," he said. "They got some yardage through the middle of our defense. Some of it's fit, some of it's not getting off blocks well. That is going to be a real emphasis, and needs to be.
"We played a lot of [linebackers], and we got to play some of them in the second half a little more … we were pretty pleased with their efforts.
"It needs to be a little stronger at the point of attack. Some of the things we addressed with the interior defense. The front has to get off blocks a little better, hold the point better, and we've got to fit the run a little better."
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