August 24, 2009

Taylor not concerned with past injuries

MADISON, Wis. - When healthy, freshman linebacker Mike Taylor makes as big an impact as anyone else on the field. He is a relentless attacker and has a knack for the ball unmatched by many. But, so far in his young career, Taylor has been on the wrong end of the injury bug.

After missing several practices early in camp, Taylor is now healthy and making an impact running both with the No. 1 and No. 2 defenses. Following a recent practice, caught up with the linebacker. During the interview, Taylor discussed his injuries, his role and the way he likes to play the game.

First of all, since we haven't talked to you, how did your summer go?

Taylor: Summer went real well. I gained a lot of strength and gained a few pounds. Overall, it was a great summer.

How much weight did you add?

Taylor: 10 pounds.

So what are you at right now?

Taylor: 220.

Is that where you want to be for the season, or are you looking to add more?

Taylor: More, yeah.

What are you looking to get to?

Taylor: As high as possible basically.

I know you've kind of had a history of being a little bit nicked up and injured. How concerning is that to you as far as staying healthy?

Taylor: Not really much of a concern. I've never really been hurt like this ever. But obviously it's college football and people are going to get hurt and people are going to get injured. The best thing you can do is stay mentally strong and keep learning and keep progressing whether it's rehab or on the field. When your number is called, get ready.

You said you haven't been injured that much, has it been frustrating for you to be banged up that much?

Taylor: Yeah, especially (because) it was like the third day of practice. I felt fine, then all of a sudden you get injured like that. That was really frustrating because I know I was in the two deep and had a shot at getting some playing time this year. So anytime you get hurt, you get frustrated.

How would you analyze the way you've been playing so far in fall camp when you've been healthy?

Taylor: I'm still making a lot of mistakes. Probably the first thing I want to correct because you can't play if you make mistakes. You've got to be smart. I try to play aggressively and go fast, go hard and bring technique with that. Be fundamentally sound. If you can do that, it's good.

Just watching you, you're always just bursting through the line full gear. Is that how you've always played, just 100 miles per hour?

Taylor: Yeah, I guess so. And that's what we're coached to do. Go full go, every play is 100 percent. So, yeah, I guess I have always been aggressive like that. See a play, you want to make it. If you hesitate, you get blocked.

What have the coaches been telling you as far as their plan for you this season?

Taylor: Nothing really. If my number has been called, I'm going to go in. That's all I can do, just, like I said, be ready mentally and physically and if your number's called, just go out there and play and earn everybody's trust.

What are your personal expectations? Do you want to contribute this year?

Taylor: Oh, definitely. Everybody wants to contribute.

Do you feel like you're making a good push so far this fall to get into the two deep?

Taylor: I think so. I'm giving it my all. Mistakes, I know there are too many mistakes on film to really see myself…Mistakes are really just a big problem right now. It's just my reads and all that. You can be strong and you can be fast. But, if you're not smart, you're not going to play.

How do you get better at making the reads? Is that through learning the playbook better?

Taylor: It's getting reps is what it is. Being out there letting coach coach you up and just seeing over and over and over your mistakes. All of a sudden you start seeing them, you see them and you see them. You just get better.

From the first practice you've had in fall camp to where you are today. Do you feel like you're making some progress?

Taylor: Yeah, yeah, definitely. Just, like I said, just getting reps. Mental reps, physical reps and just knowing your keys and where to go definitely helps on making plays.

On the offensive side of the ball, who's the toughest guy to get past when they're trying to block you?

Taylor: (Long pause) Gabe Carimi is good off the edge when I'm blitzing. That's probably the toughest one.

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