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Silvels, Taylor both ready to step up

Edge rushers set despite uncertanity surrounding defensive linemen

Sophomore+linebacker+Dominick+Silvels%2C+No.+20%2C+lines+up+to+rush+the+kicker+attempting+a+field+goal+during+a+scrimmage+Aug.+18+in+Martin+Stadium.
Sophomore linebacker Dominick Silvels, No. 20, lines up to rush the kicker attempting a field goal during a scrimmage Aug. 18 in Martin Stadium.

Sophomore linebacker Dominick Silvels, No. 20, lines up to rush the kicker attempting a field goal during a scrimmage Aug. 18 in Martin Stadium.

OLIVER MCKENNA | DAILY EVERGREEN FILE

OLIVER MCKENNA | DAILY EVERGREEN FILE

Sophomore linebacker Dominick Silvels, No. 20, lines up to rush the kicker attempting a field goal during a scrimmage Aug. 18 in Martin Stadium.

JACKSON GARDNER, Evergreen assistant sports editor

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The question of who would replace former linebacker Frankie Luvu at the rush linebacker position. May have been put to rest.

In fact, there might be a new, but entirely different question: who do you start? Redshirt freshman linebacker Willie Taylor III or sophomore linebacker Dominick Silvels?

My answer after their performance against University of Wyoming: pick your poison.

“Well yeah, but the question marks were only by you guys,” sophomore defensive end Will Rodgers III said in response to whether Taylor’s and Silvels’ performance would halt the uncertainty around the rush linebacker position. “We always had faith in those guys. I knew [Taylor] was gonna be a guy and [Silvels] was gonna be a guy.”

As a whole, the defensive line has been questioned at length and while some of those questions were certainly warranted and will continue to be until we see what they can do against Pac-12 opponents, it was a hell of a start for the entire defensive line. But in my eyes, the two stand-up edge rushers stood out.

Saturday we learned that both rush linebackers are effective pass rushers and defensive coordinator Tracey Claeys thought so too. In several third and second-and-long situations, Claeys employed both of them to rush the edge.

Meaning he took redshirt junior defensive lineman Nnamdi Oguayo, the best pass rusher on the team, off the field in favor of Taylor and Silvels.

It shows that using a package with Silvels and Taylor both on the field is a viable option should Oguayo need to be on a limited snap count in the future.

Both Taylor and Silvels had huge sacks that tallied up to cost the Cowboys 39 yards of offense. Think about that. Two plays collectively moved Wyoming’s offense back 39 yards. And they both came on third down to get their offense off the field.

Taylor’s came early in the third quarter just after the Cougars had taken a one-point lead. There are two things to keep in mind on that play. First are the implications this sack had on the momentum of the game. Just up one point and the game still very much in anyone’s hands, halting the Wyoming offense at that point was huge.

Second, the strip sack netted a loss of 28 yards and forced the Cowboys to punt from their own 19 opposed to their 47. In a game where field position means everything, that had a massive effect on the game. Even though the ensuing offensive drive for WSU ended in a punt, the punt was from its own 47-yard line and pinned Wyoming on their 11- yard line.

With the game still at just a one-point difference, forcing the Cowboys to march at least 65 yards to be a scoring threat should not be taken lightly. And all of this started from Taylor’s sack.

Silvels sack came early in the fourth quarter with the game still at a one-score difference. The Cowboys had just picked up a first down when on third and nine Silvels sent the Cowboys offense back to where they came from. The sack forced another punt inside their 20-yard line and resulted with the Cougars starting their drive already in Wyoming territory.

Where did that drive end up? It finished in the end zone with a 14-yard touchdown run. That was the ball game right there. Up two scores and Cowboy fans heading for the exits, you could feel the life sucked out of Wyoming.

“I have confidence from watching them in practice,” senior nickel back Hunter Dale said about his teammates Taylor and Silvels. “You never know how someone is going to play in a game until they’re actually in the game … but they’re guys who always make plays and I wouldn’t expect anything less from them.”

For a position that had all of us wondering who would be “the guy,” we found out there are actually two guys and that is a very positive development for the Speed D.

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Silvels, Taylor both ready to step up