On paper, Eugene Taylor and Sean Bacon are two inexperienced defensive ends who are just small factors on the San Jose State Spartans new look defense. However, during Thursday’s shut out of Sacramento State, Bacon and Taylor played major roles in stifling the Hornets offense.
“I was a little nervous, I had those early game butterflies but at the end of the day I had to focus on my assignment. After the first play I got used to the speed and I went from there,” said Bacon about his first start.
The soft spoken Taylor added, “It was exciting and a lot of fun to finally get out there and play in front of the home fans.”
New defensive coordinator Kenwick Thompson has installed a hybrid defensive scheme that puts a lot of responsibility on the shoulders of Bacon and Taylor.
“I used to play just strictly defensive end, but with great coaching both Eugene and I learned how to drop back in coverage,” Bacon pointed out.
On Thursday night, Bacon and Taylor seemed to have taken over the game as they pressured the quarterback and helped force two interceptions. From the very first quarter, you could not help but notice big number 94 and 95 swarming the quarterback.
After Thursday night’s game, I got a chance to ask head coach Ron Caragher about Bacon and Taylor’s performance.
“It’s nice to see Bacon and Taylor step up. Sean Bacon had a nice night tonight from what I understand and Eugene Taylor our redshirt freshman stepped up and played solid. Taylor is an athletic guy, he can play in space well, and get after the passer,” proclaimed Caragher.
After the game, I went home and watched the replay of the game and I came away even more impressed with the play of Bacon and Taylor. Both of them were lining up in different sets as they not only rushed the passer but they dropped back in coverage, used defensive stunts, and held the outside.
“If you stay watching film and treat film study like class, you can learn how to make the right plays on game day,” said Bacon.
I asked defensive coordinator Kenwick Thompson about Bacon and Taylor’s play and why he has so much trust in them.
“We expect a lot out of those guys (Bacon and Taylor), they generate a lot of rush and we expect those guys to be athletic enough to make plays, so it was great to see them play well. They both understand that they got to step their ante up next week against Stanford,” asserted Thompson.
While Bacon and Taylor line up on opposite ends of the line, they both have to be in constant contact with each other as they are the main pass rushers. They also switched sides a few times during the game so they must have good communication between them. “You know Sean is my boy, he’s my friend, both on and off the field,” said Taylor.
When asked if there was a friendly competition on who can make more plays, Bacon replied, “Before the game I told Eugene that we are going to have friendly competitions on who can get to the quarterback first. I feel like if we can compete with each other it would give us more motivation to get after the quarterback.”
Hopefully, the budding duo of Bacon and Taylor showed just a glimpse of their vast potential against Sacramento State. If they can continue to put pressure on the quarterback, expect the dynamic Bene Benwikere and his fellow defensive backs to capitalize on opposing quarterback’s errant throws. Thompson’s hybrid scheme would not be as effective without the athletic Bacon and Taylor running around the field. If they can continue their torrid pace, San Jose State could have a new defensive identity.