Taylor ready to fill in

Michael Taylor knows it isn't the ideal situation. With sophomore middle linebacker Antonio Morrison suspended for the first two games of the season against Toledo and Miami, it's Taylor that will likely slide into the role as Florida's middle linebacker. The absence of Morrison is opening new roles for other linebackers to step up as leaders.

"Other people had to step up," Michael Taylor said. "Other people had to fill the void that was left by him. That was it. More people took on leadership roles."

The linebacker position seems to be the most worrisome as the Gators head into the season. The two-game suspension for Antonio Morrison makes it even worse. It forces Taylor to the MIKE linebacker position, and with Ronald Powell moving to the SAM linebacker, the WILL linebacker is still up for grabs.

Neiron Ball and Darrin Kitchens will take reps at WILL linebacker, along with the four freshmen linebackers Florida signed. Every Florida upperclassman asked has a different freshman linebacker he compliments. For Taylor, it was the injured Matt Rolin. Running back Mack Brown was impressed with freshman Jarrad Davis. Multiple players have talked about Daniel McMillian.

The freshmen will bring depth this year, helping the Gators find a linebacker group that will hold up over the course of the season.

"We still do have to bring some guys along," Taylor said. "We still have to work on depth. I feel we're perfectly fine with whatever we have. Injuries are going to hurt, but we'll get some guys back. It will be fine."

The addition of Powell to the SAM linebacker spot will make the position more productive. While returning from two ACL injuries, Powell worked to fit at the position. With Jonathan Bullard and Dante Fowler set to play the defensive end spots, the Gators could use Powell as more of a stand up player.

"It's good. Me being at Mike, and him being at SAM right next to me, I know that areas are going to be constricted," Taylor said. "It's good to have him healthy and have him back."

Having Powell back on the field has been important for the team. The Gators watched as Powell went through the long rehab process that kept him off the field for the 2012 season, and seeing him return to full pads for the first time on Tuesday was an important moment.

The players respect him. The redshirt junior has been around for four years and is seen as one of the leaders on the team.

"Coming off that injury like that, staying around us, not going into a shell, staying around us, keeping us motivated, trying to keep us pumped up -- I think that really had an impact," Taylor said.

The one disappointment for Taylor is the targeting rule implemented by the NCAA. Players can be ejected from a game for striking a defenseless player above the neck.

"It's unfortunate," Taylor said. "It's kind of hard -- it's like we gotta play with pillows now. They tell you, we watch film, if you come through on the blitz, they tell you you've gotta target low. If you got a receiver flying across the middle, we won't kill them in practice, but they let you know. I understand they are trying to make the game safer, but come on."

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