It's Kelvin Taylor time for UF
Published: Monday, October 28, 2013 at 1:29 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, October 28, 2013 at 4:38 p.m.
It looks like Florida tailback Kelvin Taylor’s first collegiate start is going to come on the same field that his famous father, Fred Taylor, called home for most of his NFL career.
Kelvin Taylor, a true freshman from Belle Glade, is expected to start Saturday’s game against Georgia at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, where his father spent 11 of his 13 pro seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
"Well, we're working through the week, but that's probably what we'll end up doing,” UF coach Will Muschamp said Monday, when asked if Taylor would start Saturday’s game.
Seeing his most significant playing time of the season in UF’s 36-17 loss to Missouri two weeks ago, Taylor had a breakout game, rushing for a team-high 74 yards on 12 carries and scoring a touchdown on a 20-yard run in the third quarter.
Even if Taylor does not get the start Saturday, his role in the offense is going to be expanded, Muschamp said.
“I think so,” Muschamp said. “Again, he's continued to improve throughout the season week to week. He's always been a very instinctive, natural runner. It's very obvious. Again, with assignments and different things, I think he's done a nice job and deserves the opportunity.
“He's a very talented runner. He's got great vision and great instincts in the run game.”
Taylor, a five-star prospect coming out of Glades Day High School, played sparingly in the first five games of the season, carrying the ball only six times for just 46 yards.
Taylor’s role started expanding three weeks ago at LSU, where he gained 52 yards on 10 carries. A week later, he was perhaps the lone bright spot on the offense in UF’s disappointing loss at Missouri in which the Gators gained only 151 total yards.
In UF’s open-date search for more playmaking ability on offense, it appears Taylor has emerged as the No. 1 tailback.
“He’s shown that he can do a lot of good things with the ball in his hands,” quarterback Tyler Murphy said. “The coaches and myself have to find ways to get him the ball so he can create big plays for us. We’re going to need some explosive plays and he’s shown that he has the ability to do that.
“We’re going to have to find ways to get him the ball and eventually he's going to break. He's a very talented, very elusive player. I’m looking forward to seeing him this week and what role he'll have."
Considered by the coaches to be the best natural runner on the team, Taylor was held back earlier in the season after having issues with pass protection and ball security in scrimmages.
He’s apparently improved those aspects of his game and now appears to have a chance to show off his No. 1 skill — running the football.
“He just runs extremely hard and hits the hole and he has great vision and has the quickness and the vision to get into the smallest hole,” fullback Hunter Joyer said. “He finds them and gets into them as fast as he can.
“He looks a little more focused than he did early in the year. He understands that we’re kind of relying on him now and he has to grow up and produce for us.”
Taylor starting at tailback may not be the only significant lineup change for the Georgia game. Muschamp said the Gators worked on several different lineup combinations on the offensive line during the open date and could go with a new starting five Saturday.
“Right now, Trenton (Brown) and Tyler (Moore) are repping at right tackle,” Muschamp said. “Kyle (Koehne) is repping at all three positions inside. And D.J. (Humphries) and Max (Garcia) are repping at left tackle. I feel like those guys made some strides in the open week. We did a lot of good-on-good work and we will today again. Those guys need to continue to come on, but that’s been the combination of guys we’ve looked at.”
Muschamp said two young linemen are also involved in the competition for playing times — sophomore Trip Thurman and true freshman Octavius Jackson.
“Octavius is a young player who is ascending and is coming along and he may get an opportunity,” Muschamp said. “Trip Thurman has done some nice things inside for us. Kyle, again, plays all three positions for us inside and we want to strictly leave him inside. We’ll move Max to left tackle if that's something we feel like we need to do."
As for making possible schematic changes on offense and defense during the bye week, there may not be any, Muschamp indicated.
“On both sides of the ball we’ve done a little bit too much at times,” he said. “Let’s scale back and get our guys playing faster. Because, to me, this game all comes down to execution. Go execute better than the other guys, that gives you a chance to be successful. If you don’t execute, it really doesn’t matter what you call. Let’s quit thinking about plays and let’s start thinking about our players. And that to me is the most important thing.”
Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Also check out Andreu's blog at Gatorsports.com.