Last year looked like the break out for Kelvin Taylor. He put up 508 yards on 111 carries, averaging 4.6 yards per carry, the highest number on the team for anyone with more than 12 carries. Taylor had his success after Matt Jones went down with a torn meniscus, but now that Jones is healthy, Taylor’s carries have declined this year.
As a freshman last season, Taylor averaged 11.1 carries per game. This season, he’s averaging 6.4 carries per game.
The number has declined because of things that happen when Taylor isn’t carrying the football. The Florida coaches know he’s gifted when the ball is in his hands, but they want him to be more consistent in pass protection and knowing his assignments.
“He is really good with the ball in his hands,” Florida offensive coordinator Kurt Roper said. “He’s a guy that when you had it to him does a good job. But you have to manage the rest of the package.”
Taylor made a mistake in pass protection on a third down during Florida’s first drive of the game. LSU blitzed the SAM linebacker and Taylor didn’t recognize it fast enough to get to Driskel’s opposite side. While trying to get there, he bumped into Driskel and forced his quarterback to bounce a throw.
“Kelvin has do a better job of getting over there faster,” Roper said. “We feel like we had a chance to convert a third down right there.”
Taylor wasn’t in the game in the fourth quarter when Florida got down to the two-yard line, and Roper said it’s because freshman Brandon Powell was making plays and holding up in pass protection.
MISSOURI ENDS WILL CHANGE FLORIDA: It was Kony Ealy and Michael Sam that tormented the Florida offensive line last year. The duo combined for four sacks against the Gators last season while the team had six sacks and seven quarterback hurries.
In a season where the Florida offensive line was terrible, October 19 in Columbia was the low point. The bad news for Florida is the film of the Missouri line is still impressive despite Ealy and Sam being gone.
“They just seem to keep restocking,” Roper said.
Shane Ray and Markus Golden are providing the pass rush this year. Ray has 12.5 tackles for a loss and eight sacks in six games this year while Golden has eight tackles for a loss and four sacks in five games. The Florida offensive line has pass protected much better this season, but they’ll face a stiff test on Saturday night.
"They've got a challenge all week and they're going to have a battle,” Roper said about his offensive tackles. “They've got to understand that it's going to be a challenge that way and they're not going to win every battle. We've got to be able to play fast and get the ball our of our hand, because those guys win their fair share of opportunities."
POWELL TO GET MORE INVOLVED: Saturday showed what kind of weapon freshman Brandon Powell can be for the Florida offense. He caught passes out of the backfield, ran between the tackles and used his speed on the perimeter. His versatility can be an important part of an improvement for the Florida offense that needs to happen soon.
“When you go to the practice field, he just makes plays,” Roper said. “He’s a guy that really picks up the offense well, understands what he’s doing, really intelligent, has good hands, really good speed. He hasn’t been healthy the whole time, that’s been part of the challenge. But he’s definitely a guy that can make some plays.”TAILGATER Wooden Ice Chest Giveaway