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Freshman running back Kelvin Taylor is averaging 69 yards per game over the last five games.

Tuesday November 19, 2013Gators Notebook: Taylor Picks up Pace, Orr Can Catch, Provancha Speaks, More Tidbits

Freshman running back Kelvin Taylor is averaging 69 yards per game over the last five games.

Scott Carter
By SCOTT CARTER
GatorZone.com Senior Writer

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Expectations for freshman running back Kelvin Taylor have been high since the day he signed with the Gators. There was no way for Taylor to escape them, not when your father is considered one of the best running backs in school history.

Taylor has steadily improved since his UF debut in the season opener against Toledo. He had his best game in Saturday’s loss at South Carolina, finishing with a career-high 96 yards on 21 carries. Taylor accounted for both UF touchdowns, scoring on runs of 20 and 29 yards.

Kelvin Taylor

Taylor is listed atop the depth chart at halfback, replacing Mack Brown, who was the starter to begin the season and then moved to backup when Matt Jones returned. With Jones out for the season with a knee injury, Taylor has climbed the ladder.

Taylor has 391 yards on the season, second to Brown’s 483. Since Jones was hurt at LSU, Taylor has averaged 69 yards per game.

“I think Kelvin’s improved tremendously,’’ Gators offensive coordinator Brent Pease said Tuesday. “I’m excited about Kelvin. I think he’s really come on with the game experience. I want to see him in his third or fourth year – he’s going to probably be outstanding.”

Pease said there are still obvious areas where Taylor can improve such as running through tackles better and breaking more tackles. Florida head coach Will Muschamp has talked recently about Taylor’s improvement as a pass blocker. Taylor is also working to improve as a receiver out of the backfield.

Still, eight game into his career – Taylor did not play at Miami or Kentucky – the 5-foot-10, 214-pound freshman is having a solid season. His 391 yards are the most for a Florida true freshman since Jeff Demps ran for 605 in 2008.

“Kelvin has played extremely well,’’ Muschamp said. “The more at-bats he gets, he’s going to get better.”

Pease got creative in his play calling at South Carolina to get Florida’s run game moving. Both of Taylor’s touchdown runs came on direct snaps.

“It was a little uncertain because none of the backs had really been in that situation, so it took some work during the week,’’ Pease said. “At first they were a little cautious. They got comfortable with it. It’s something to expand on and work with.”

 

QUARTERBACK QUANDARY

The Gators have not ruled out Tyler Murphy (shoulder) from playing on Saturday against Georgia Southern.

Skyler Mornhingweg

The Gators plan to see if Murphy can test his sore throwing shoulder throughout the week at practice before making a final decision.Pease simply answered “no” when asked Tuesday if he considered Murphy “out.” If Murphy can’t go, redshirt freshman Skyler Mornhinweg will make his second career start.

“That’s up to our medical staff and Tyler,’’ Muschamp said. “They come to me and say these are the situations. My whole issue with that is, is the player at risk of further injury by playing? If that’s the case, he’s not going to play.”

Murphy said Monday that he is not 100 percent but that he has improved since last week when he was unable to practice. Murphy started six consecutive games after starter Jeff Driskel went down with a broken leg in the Tennessee game.

He remains optimistic he will be able to play before the season ends.

“It’s just all about if I can be efficient while I’m out there,’’ he said. “I don’t want to go out there and not be able to make certain throws and be limited.”

 

ORR ON HIS (NEAR) CATCH

The term “big target” took on new meaning for the Gators on Saturday when they faked a punt in the fourth quarter.

Leon Orr

Facing a fourth-and-13 from their 32, Trey Burton shifted to take the snap and then lobbed a pass toward 6-foot-5, 302-pound defensive tackle Leon Orr. Burton’s pass was on target and Orr got both his hands on the ball. However, he was unable to haul in the catch as a pair of South Carolina defenders closed in to hit Orr.

While the play set off a Twitter storm, Orr said he was ready on a play designed by special-teams coach Jeff Choate.

“One day he came up to me with a play and drew it up and we just went out there and practiced it a couple of times and it looked smooth,” Orr said. “We activated it for the game. I think I’ve made [the catch] every time, not to brag or anything. I played tight end in high school so it was definitely something that was familiar to me.

“I’m pretty disappointed I didn’t come up with the catch, but it was fun going out there and making that play become live.”

 

OPPONENT SPOTLIGHT

Former Georgia Southern head coach Erk Russell, who passed away in 2006, is credited with putting the Eagles on the map. The Eagles are in transition to the FBS and put together this preseason video to honor the program's tradition ...

 

PROVOLONE SPEAKS

They call players like redshirt junior quarterback Christian Provancha “program guys,” a solid citizen good for team morale, boosting the team’s grade-point average and working on the scout team.

The Gators called Provancha “backup quarterback” at South Carolina. He will have the same role on Saturday against Georgia Southern if Murphy is unable to play.

Christian Provancha

Provancha met with the media Tuesday and entertained reporters with his humor and sharp wit.

Asked if injured defensive tackle Dominique Easley even knows who he is, Provancha replied: “He might call me Provolone, or Pro, but yes, he knows who I am.”

That’s more than most fans can probably say, but the guitar- and piano-playing Provancha is fine with that. He joined the program as a walk-on from Cocoa Beach (Fla.) High in the summer of 2010.

“As for the last few years, when you’re No. 5 [on the depth chart] and you’ve got guys going in at wildcat probably instead of you, then you’re focused on school,’’ said Provancha, an environmental science major set to graduate in the spring and then enroll in graduate school. “But nowadays, having to gain the trust of your teammates, you balance it out a lot better. My primary focus has been showing the team that they can have the trust in me.”

Probably the only way Provancha will see the field at UF is if Murphy and Mornhinweg are both unable to play Saturday. Provancha hopes that is not the case.

Still, he is taking second-team reps in practice to get ready like he did last week heading into the South Carolina game.

“That’s the first game I really felt like I had the opportunity to possibly contribute,’’ Provancha said. “Everyone hopes to be in this situation where you have the opportunity to contribute, but not like this. You want to work your way up the ladder with skill.

“I’m just very appreciative of the coaches and the players and their trust.”

What if Provancha does get to play? Could he handle the big stage?

“Oh, absolutely,” he said. “They say once you step on the field you’ll be nervous your first play or two. [At] practice you got, you know, your boss eight feet behind you screaming in your ear. In the game you have 90,000 eyes – maybe 70,000 this week – I don’t know … a lot of eyes on you. But that goes away.”

 

EXTRA PROVOLONE

This video has been on YouTube since Provancha was a freshman and showed off his piano skills during Florida's Outback Bowl trip in 2010 ...

 

QUOTE OF NOTE I

“We have great fans here. It’s a small percentage. It’s just frustrating for me. Anybody that knows me, I care about the kids. They’re working extremely hard, and that’s who I hurt for. That’s part of the profession.” – Muschamp on fan criticism

QUOTE OF NOTE II

“We don’t ever look down at our opponents, but definitely with a team like Georgia Southern coming in, with how we have struggled, it’s going to be a fair matchup. They’re going to come in and try to make things worse for us.” – Murphy on facing Georgia Southern

QUOTE OF NOTE III

“After the game, it was raining when we came back from Columbia and there were about, I'd say, like eight to 10 Gator fans out there waiting with signs in the rain after we got off the bus. And I was like 'Wow, that's so uplifting.' You don't see that often. I've never seen that type of support before.” – Gators offensive lineman Max Garcia on fans who greeted the Gators when they returned home early Sunday morning

 

BY THE NUMBERS

26 – Consecutive games with a reception for Quinton Dunbar, breaking school record set by Carlos Alvarez from 1969-71.

15-1 – Florida’s record when rushing for 150 or more yards under Muschamp. The Gators rushed for 200 against South Carolina but were unable to pull off the upset.

100-28 – Scoring margin in only two meetings between Florida and Georgia Southern. The Gators defeated the Eagles 38-14 in 1986 and 62-14 in 1996.

3 – Former Gators to have brothers play at Georgia Southern: Lester Norwood (current Eagle quarterback Jerick McKinnon), Mike Peterson (former GSU running back Adrian Peterson) and Steven Stipe (former GSU linebacker Stan Stipe).

11 – Freshman quarterbacks (true and redshirt) to start at quarterback for the Gators after Mornhinweg’s first career start at South Carolina.

55.5 percent – Florida’s success rate on field goals (10-for-18) this season.

95 percent – Florida’s opponents’ success rate on field goals (19-for-20) this season.

 

TOPICAL TWEETS

Gators offensive lineman Kyle Koehne shared his thoughts after the hard-fought loss at South Carolina...

 

Taylor's strong second half of the season has not gone unnoticed ...

 

The Gators almost pulled off the upset in a jacked-up Williams-Brice Stadium, which has become a tough place to play ...

 

South Carolina kicker Elliott Fry (four field goals) was the main difference in Saturday's game; does he even look old enough to play? ...

 

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