Last year’s freshman All-American, sophomore Taylor Young, will be back in the starting lineup for the Baylor Bears on Saturday. His return comes at a crucial time, as the Bears are searching for consistency before Big 12 conference play begins.
“We haven’t been a clean football team,” said head coach Art Briles. “What we’ve got to be is [more] consistent.”
Baylor allowed 173 rushing yards to Lamar two weeks ago.
Briles said he is confident with Young returning, calling Young “a big difference maker.”
The Big 12 Newcomer of the Year in 2014 registered 92 tackles (ranking second on the team last season), 8.5 tackles for loss and four sacks last season, while only starting half of the games in 2014.
The 5-foot-10, 225-pound run-stopper said he can’t wait to get back on the field after explaining how difficult it was to sit out Baylor’s last game.
Young suffered a Grade-2 sprain of the AC joint in his shoulder in the first quarter against SMU and the entirety of Baylor’s home opener.
“It was tough just seeing the team out there without me,” Young said. “But [I] just had to be there in spirit and cheer them on. [I] had to be a vocal leader [against Lamar].”
The DeSoto native admitted the struggle of watching Lamar beat Baylor early in the game with the read-option, knowing he could make a difference.
He said his teammates on the Bears’ defense did a great job adjusting in the second half, though.
“That just shows the maturity of our team, that we can adjust and figure out what we’re doing wrong,” Young said. “We can fix our mistakes real fast, which shows how poised and mature these guys are.”
Despite being injured, Young was able to make a difference by offering some advice to the guys on the sidelines.
“[Stopping the read-option] was more about making quick decisions and being fast and playing fast. Once you do that, everything comes on its own,” Young said.
After watching the Cardinals put up 21 points in the first half, Young said it was encouraging to see his teammates limit the opposing team to 10 in the second half.
Despite the improvements, Young said he knows the overall play is not good enough for Big 12 competition.
“All these guys are pretty smart as a whole. But it’s more about starting fast. That’s the main thing from last year to this year, just being more dominant early in the game,” Young said.
He acknowledged that the defense will need to be focused this week, as Rice features a dual-threat quarterback and a solid running game.
The sophomore linebacker is confident ahead of the game against Rice on Saturday. Young said it will be a good chance to showcase the improvements made from last game.