The running back torched Georgia for the second straight season, totaling 125 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries in Florida’s 27-3 win over Georgia on Saturday. In the same game last season, it was 197 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.
When Taylor takes a handoff at EverBank Field, he turns into his father.
“It’s my house, man,” Taylor said. “This my house. This is the Taylors’ house, man. I remember me being like seven years old, just running around in this stadium. The meeting room has changed, but my father, just being inside this stadium with my father, it’s just crazy man how time flies. Now I’m playing on the side of the field that my dad had a great career at. I just want to thank God, and it’s a wonderful feeling. Every time I get out there on that field, there’s just something about it, man.”
It’s a sentiment that McElwain shared.
“Based on what’s happened, maybe we ought to make this our home stadium for him,” Florida’s first-year coach said with a grin. “He’s done a heck of a job here. Really I’m so happy for him to have those kinds of performances in a house that obviously Dad played in. I think that’s so special.”
The familiar setting breeds comfort. In the same halls that Taylor and the Gators walk through to get to the locker room to the field, Taylor recalls running around as a child and playing with his toys. It’s where he started to understand the how good his father was and wanted to follow in his footsteps.
The Gators had to make some bye week adjustments to get the running game going. It showed up in the first half as Taylor ran for 91 yards, averaging 5.7 yards per carry. He added 34 yards in the second half, and freshman Jordan Scarlett ran for 91 yards during the second half.
The Florida ground game cleaned up its play by simply playing better on the offensive line. And it helped Taylor find multiple holes to grind away the clock and help take the pressure off quarterback Treon Harris.
“I always like to put a personal challenge on myself because I feel like I’m a really good running back and it was about time for me to start making plays,” Taylor said. “I just talked to my offensive line pretty much this whole week and just kept telling those guys, ‘We got to have a great game. Just to give me a little crease, after that I’ll do the rest.’ Those guys did that and I did the rest. I’m looking forward to just keep improving every week and keep getting better and better. I can’t wait.”
With a 20-0 lead at halftime, the Gators were able to continue running the football in the second half to ice away the game.
In his three years as a part of the Florida-Georgia game, Taylor has 70 carries for 394 yards and four touchdowns. After working as an important piece of the backfield with Matt Jones over the last two seasons, Taylor has taken the reigns of the Florida running game this season.
He leads the Gators with 10 touchdowns through eight games, but the junior credits what his father taught him growing up. Taylor showcased it in a stadium his father helped put on the football map.
“Every time I get close to that goal line, I got to get the ball in. That’s one thing my father always preached to me. My coaching staff, coach Mac and coach Skip, always tell me to finish, finish, finish. That’s my biggest thing. Every time I get the ball, I always just try to finish. That’s pretty much it.”