Taylor a bright spot during losing streak
Published: Sunday, November 17, 2013 at 5:37 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, November 17, 2013 at 5:37 p.m.
If there's a silver lining to Florida's injury-plagued season, it's the freshmen who have been able to get game experience.
Who: Georgia Southern (6-4) at Florida (4-6)
When: 2 p.m. Saturday
Running back Kelvin Taylor has made the most of his opportunity since starter Matt Jones (torn meniscus) went down against LSU, and he was once again a bright spot in Saturday's 19-14 loss at South Carolina.
Taylor rushed for a season-high 96 yards and both of Florida's touchdowns on 21 carries. In the last 18 quarters, Taylor has carried the ball 75 times for 346 rushing yards (4.6 average per carry) and four scores.
“Kelvin has played extremely well,” UF coach Will Muschamp said Sunday on his television show. “He's continued to improve, and the more at-bats he gets, he's going to get better.”
Florida offensive coordinator Brent Pease and his assistants showed new wrinkles on the ground Saturday, including direct snaps to Taylor and jet sweeps to Valdez Showers.
“We want to be creative in the run game to help Skyler (Mornhinweg) a little bit,” Muschamp said. “Kelvin Taylor played extremely well. Our offensive line blocked extremely well against a very good front.
“We felt pretty good about being able to run it. You're never certain going in, but I think Brent and our offensive staff did a nice job of coming up with a game plan to help us win the game.”
Mornhinweg made the first start of his UF career in place of Tyler Murphy, who missed the game with a sprained shoulder that could sideline him against Georgia Southern.
The Gators did not ask much of the redshirt freshman quarterback, and he finished with 107 yards and an interception on 10-of-13 passing.
Other than his game-clinching turnover on Florida's final drive, Muschamp felt Mornhinweg handled himself well under the circumstances.
“I thought Skyler did a good job of managing the game, getting in and out of the right things,” Muschamp said. “Not a whole lot of procedural issues in his first start in a hostile environment. I'm very proud of his performance.”
With Antonio Morrison (torn meniscus) out of the lineup at linebacker, true freshman Jarrad Davis made his first career start against the Gamecocks on his birthday.
He recorded five tackles, including a fourth-down stop in UF territory.
“Jarrad made a fantastic play on fourth down,” Muschamp said. “We've got a bunch of good young players coming up in the program.”
The Gators (4-6), the losers of five consecutive games, must beat Georgia Southern (6-4) on Saturday and No. 2 Florida State (10-0) next week to become bowl eligible or their 22-year postseason run will be over and to avoid their first losing season since 1979.