Taylor Putting Vol Game in Perspective

It is the second conference game of the season, but don't ask Michael Taylor to put more emphasis than that on the upcoming matchup with Tennessee. It is one of 12 on the schedule and one of eight in conference. The Gators need to win this one like they needed to win the last one and the next. Respect for the opponent because it is an opponent.

The fact that Michael Taylor actually committed to Tennessee and then finally switched that commitment to Florida really matters little to him and what he thinks of this rivalry.

"It's another opponent," Taylor told the media on Wednesday. "I definitely committed (there) in high school but that was three years ago. I chose to come here, a great school. It is a rivalry definitely, but it's just another school we have to go against on Saturday night. All the coaches that recruited me are gone. I don't know any of their players. It's just another SEC opponent."

Some fans might disagree, especially those that were following and attending this matchup in the 1990's when the two schools were annually fighting it out as the best team in the SEC Eastern division. Even a few years ago the rivalry got a little heated once again. Florida is riding a seven game winning streak so maybe a little bit of the pizzazz has worn off.

"I am very familiar with it," Taylor said of the rivalry. "I know Urban and Lane Kiffin used to go back and forth when I was a recruit. I know it very well. We have won for a while now and have to keep that streak going."

An early SEC tilt always garners attention, especially when the two teams are on the same side of the conference. Some would say this game could set the tone for the SEC East race moving forward. But for Taylor, it is just another line on the schedule that the Gators want to notch in the win column.

"I don't think it sets the tone, I think every game is a big game," Taylor said. "In college football you can't lose a game if you want to go to the big ship. In the end, every year is a new year. Anything can happen on any game. Anybody can win or lose. We have to go into every game prepared like it's a big game.

Tennessee comes in with the top offense in the conference and throwing the ball all over the place. Taylor isn't ready to concede that they will throw all over he and his teammates on Saturday.

"We will have to see on Saturday, we can't judge an offense until we play them," he said. "It's an offense and they are going to try and run and throw the ball. They have some pretty good receivers. I think we match up well against them. They might bring some trickery out, but it's nothing we aren't game planning for."

Listening to Taylor, he has the upmost confidence in the staff that leads them every day and the plan that the staff implements for each game. Once the defense settled down and actually stuck to the game plan against Texas A&M on Saturday, the defense shut out the Aggies and the offense pulled ahead to win.

"We watch a lot of film and our coaches give us great schemes," Taylor said. "We believe in our coaches and as soon as they implement a scheme we are in watching film. As soon as they give us something to do we are going to follow that scheme and the scheme is what works so well."

Taylor and freshman linebacker Antonio Morrison will be relied on more than usual this week. Starting WILL linebacker Jelani Jenkins is out for a while with a broken thumb and both will be pressed into duty. One of the two will likely start Saturday.

"Every player on our team should be ready," Taylor said of the injury. "Anybody can go down whether it is the quarterback or the long snapper… our long snapper got hurt. We have to be ready whether we are going in The Swamp or a hostile environment like Tennessee.

"I am definitely ready. If I could jump from Saturday to Saturday every week I would."

Taylor believes that Morrison can be special and the two have really bonded since the freshman arrived on campus early and back in January.

"He loves to hit, I enjoy being out there with him," Taylor said with a grin. "He's fun. We both like to talk our share of trash. I really enjoy hanging with Antonio. We hang out off the field too. We play NCAA football (computer game), he hasn't beaten me in a while."

With the loss of Jenkins, the two will have to step up. Taylor knows that will happen. There wasn't this much luxury a year ago.

"It will be tough for teams to run or pass on us," he said. "It is a loss, but that is why we are here… to step up and make plays.

"We definitely have more depth with me and him. Both of us can pretty much play anywhere. We can go in and play any down any day, so it is a boost."

Taylor Praises offensive teammates

Taylor is watching the Florida offense evolve with new players making things happen for the Gators. One guy that has been steady if not explosive is tight end Jordan Reed, who Taylor said is no easy task to defend.

"He is pretty hard to cover," Taylor said of Reed. "You better get a safety on him. Covering with a linebacker is difficult, that linebacker better have some good hips."

Senior running back Mike Gillislee has scored four of the Gators five touchdowns on the season. There is little doubt he is the offensive MVP and he may likely be the team MVP so far. Taylor says that Gillislee is a special player.

"People try to say he is a power back, but he is really, really hard," taylor said of Gillislee. "He took a screen in the fall and took it 80 yards. He got ‘Ghost' in two seconds. He is a great back, but especially going against him in practice he makes you better, because he has the speed, quickness, and power."

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