Tuesday October 29, 2013Gators Notebook: Taylor Has Shown Explosive-Play Ability, Big Brown Steps Up, More Tidbits
Gators quarterback Tyler Murphy and offensive coordinator Brent Pease.
Gators quarterback Tyler Murphy and offensive coordinator Brent Pease.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – In search of more explosive plays on offense, the Gators are expected to turn more to freshman running back Kelvin Taylor on Saturday against Georgia.
Gators coach Will Muschamp said Monday that Taylor will probably make his first career start. Whether he starts or not, Taylor has shown the past two games that he is currently Florida’s most dangerous offensive weapon.
In back-to-back road losses at LSU and Missouri, the Gators managed only nine “explosive” plays – runs of 10 or more yards and passes of 20 or more yards.
Taylor accounted for six of those – three explosive runs in each game, including his first career touchdown on a 20-yard dash in Florida’s 36-17 loss at Missouri.
Quarterback Tyler Murphy had a 10-yard run at LSU and receiver Solomon Patton had a 17-yard run at Missouri. The only pass play of 20 or more yards in the two games was Murphy’s 20-yard completion to Quinton Dunbar late in the 17-6 loss at LSU.
Taylor’s role expanded when starting halfback Matt Jones suffered a season-ending knee injury. While Taylor and Mack Brown have split time in Jones’ absence, Taylor has made the bigger impact for an offense in search of playmakers.
“He is really gifted,’’ senior receiver Trey Burton said Tuesday.
Taylor rushed for a career-high 74 yards on 12 carries at Missouri, accounting for 53 yards on a six-play, 70-yard drive capped by his first touchdown, which trimmed the Tigers’ lead to 23-17.
“He's continued to improve throughout the season week to week,” Muschamp said. “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 shown that he can do a lot of good things with the ball in his hands,” 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.”
In the wake of the loss at Missouri, Taylor’s performance served as a bright spot for a fan base hungry for more offense. Taylor’s 74 yards were nearly half of the Gators’ 151-yard output.
Offensive coordinator Brent Pease said Tuesday that Taylor deserved more touches at Missouri than he got.
“Looking back on it, when Kelvin came on, he kind of got in a flow,’’ Pease said. “We were still using him. Sometimes he wasn’t in there and he probably should have [been]. He has made plays with the ball in his hand.”
Murphy’s sore right shoulder prevented him from throwing during the bye week. Murphy suffered a sprained AC joint at LSU Oct. 12. He played at Missouri the next week but was not 100 percent.
However, Murphy threw at Monday’s practice and continues to improve. He is expected to play Saturday.
“It’s really been about two weeks where he hasn’t done [much],’’ Pease said Tuesday. “He’s thrown about 30 balls up until yesterday. So you know his arm — his accuracy was off a little bit and just kind of getting back into the rhythm and the timing of everything.”
Gators safety Cody Riggs was pumped for Florida’s game at Missouri. His family traveled to the game from South Florida and relatives in St. Louis made the short drive to Faurot Field to watch him play in person.
Riggs was ejected as quickly as his family could get seated. On the first play of the game, Riggs was called for a targeting penalty, which warrants an automatic ejection.
Since the play happened in the first half, Riggs is available to play from the start of Saturday’s game against Georgia.
“I was shocked at first, but I saw the replay -- I did launch myself," Riggs said. “I didn't think I did on the field, but if you watch it, I guess I did launch myself. I had no intention of hurting the guy. I thought Vernon [Hargreaves] was going to pick it and when he didn't, I tried to dive into him to see if I can get the ball off, but that's launching. They made the right call. I just have to play smart next time.”
The toughest part for Riggs was watching the game on a laptop in the locker room and dealing with the disappointment of his family seeing him for only one play. Still, he understands why the rule was put in place this season.
“It's a good rule because of concussions," he said. “I know people that have played in the NFL with concussions. It has its pros and cons. It's just one of those rules that you have to live with.”
BIG BROWN GETS LOOK
The Gators are experimenting with players in different roles on the offensive line as they get ready to face the Bulldogs. The Gators have allowed 10 sacks in the last two games and while the offensive line isn’t to blame for all of them, the unit has not been in top form.
“We just haven’t performed across the board as consistently as we want to,’’ Muschamp said. “There’s no question.”
Muschamp mentioned junior-college transfer Trenton Brown getting work at right tackle and left guard Max Garcia working at left tackle. Kyle Koehne has worked at Garcia’s left-guard spot. The two starters that appear solid are center Jonotthan Harrison and right guard Jon Halapio.
The 6-foot-8, 361-pound Brown is an intriguing prospect. A former basketball player, Brown has impressed his coaches and teammates at practice with is agility and improvement.
“He’s in line to play quite a bit,’’ Pease said. “He was taking first-team reps last week, he’s taking first-team reps this week. We’ll go from there. He’s still got to step up to his performance. He’s gotten better, he deserves an opportunity, and he’s going to get that.”
Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray is no stranger to the Florida-Georgia rivalry. Murray is 2-1 against the Gators and Muschamp said Murray is a top concern in Saturday’s game. The video of some of Murray’s highlights show why …
QUOTE OF NOTE I
“The thing we tried to go back and focus on simplifying is how much we take off of them [where] they really have to think and adjust. There’s still some that you’ve got to be able to do because defenses change their schemes and looks, their fronts, you’ve got to make sure you have answers to them. But as much as we can take off of communication line to execute more on the run and just play fast and not be thinking up to the immediate snap of the ball or at the snap of the ball, that’s what we’ve got to do.” -- Pease on simplifying some of the communication for the offense
QUOTE OF NOTE II
“It’s been pretty difficult [losing two in a row]. This has been my favorite game of the year. Last year was extremely tough because it was the offense’s fault [six turnovers]. The first year [in 2010], that was a lot of fun, just winning in overtime in my first Florida-Georgia game.” – Burton on his Florida-Georgia memories past three years
QUOTE OF NOTE III
“I remember he kind of said, `Hey, save a spot, I'm coming.' I don't know when that was, but it was pretty late in the game. The last weekend at the very end, they were just going to go hang out at Florida and see what was up.” – Georgia coach Mark Richt, a former FSU assistant, on recruiting former Gators running back Fred Taylor, father of UF freshman Kelvin Taylor
QUOTE OF NOTE IV
"Kicking is a hero or zero. I would never want another kicker to miss a field goal, but I'm glad that one gives us a chance now.” – Georgia kicker Marshall Morgan on Missouri kicker Andrew Baggett’s OT miss against South Carolina
WHAT THEY”RE WRITING
--CBSSports.com columnist Tony Barnhart with his five-lessons-we-learned column, including a look at SEC East race.
--The Gators are taking the KISS approach writes Robbie Andreu of The Gainesville Sun.
--Richt provided injury updates on several receivers and running back Todd Gurley on Tuesday writes Seth Emerson of The Macon (Ga.) Telegraph.
--The Gators and Bulldogs are having similar seasons writes Chip Towers of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.