Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor determined to take care of ball
Wisconsin’s star sophomore has the speed to pull away from a defensive back; power to bowl over a linebacker; and patience to wait for a hole to open behind his mammoth offensive line.
He also has lost fumbles in the season’s first two games, an issue that he is determined to fix.
“One thing that’s always good is looking at the film after a win and being able to correct things and put it into action during a week of work,” Taylor said after the 45-14 win on Saturday, when he ran for career highs of 253 yards on 33 carries.
The Badgers (2-0) dropped one spot in the latest AP Top 25 poll to sixth ahead of next weekend’s home game against BYU.
“Ball security is number one, you can’t do anything without the ball,” Taylor said. “That’s definitely something we’re going to work on this week going forward.”
Coach Paul Chryst appreciates how Taylor bounces back after a miscue. Instead of chewing him out the sideline after his latest fumble on Saturday, he offered Taylor words of encouragement.
“What you feel as a coach, not one of those guys is going out there and saying, ‘You know what, I’m going to try to fumble right here,'” Chryst said. “So I think the whole thing is how do you respond?”
Taylor fumbled on his 11th carry on Saturday. He was spotless the rest of the way, scoring the first of his three touchdowns on the next series.
He helped set up the Badgers’ next score by running for 65 yards over three straight plays, including a 43-yarder. The second touchdown run came from five yards after following pulling center Tyler Biadasz into the end zone.
“It happens, you’ve always got to bounce back,” Biadasz said about Taylor’s fumble. “You just have to remind him little things here and there, it’s all about the fundamentals of the game. He bounces right back. It’s the same Taylor you see.”
Except for some reason, fumbling has been an issue especially since Week 10 of last season. He lost three over the final five weeks of the 2017 campaign to go with the two lost over the first two weeks this season.
His production otherwise keeps him on the field. Last year, the dynamic back ran for 1,977 yards, an FBS record for a freshman. He finished sixth in Heisman voting.
Averaging 199 yards on the ground over two games this year with five touchdown runs, Taylor is putting up the kinds of numbers again that make Heisman voters take notice.
Chryst also likes the way Taylor stays even-keeled, just like the head coach. Teammates say he doesn’t get caught up in the Heisman hype and works as hard as he did during his breakout freshman season.
They also say his doesn’t dwell on mistakes, focused instead on correcting them.
“He’s a mentally tough dude and he’s a great athlete,” receiver A.J. Taylor said. “Those two combined makes for an unstoppable guy.”