“He has continued to improve throughout the season, week-to-week,” Will Muschamp said on Monday. “He's always been a very instinctive, natural runner. It's very obvious. With assignments and different things, I think he's done a nice job and deserves the opportunity.”
Muschamp later said that opportunity would “probably” come as the starting running back on Saturday.
Mack Brown and Matt Jones were splitting the carries before Jones suffered a knee injury. While Brown has been consistent in the backfield, Taylor brings the game-breaking ability to the Florida offense.
Brown has rushed 99 times for 359 yards and three touchdowns while averaging 3.6 yards per carry. In just 28 carries, Taylor has totaled 172 rushing yards and one touchdown, good for 6.1 yards per carry.
“He has shown that he can do a lot of good things with the ball in his hands,” Florida quarterback Tyler Murphy said. “The coaches and myself have to find ways to get him the ball so he can create big plays for us. We’re going to need some explosive plays, and he’s shown that he has the ability to do that. We’re going to have to find ways to get him the ball and eventually he's going to break.
"He's a very talented, very elusive player. Looking forward to seeing him this week and what role he'll have."
Taylor started to turn heads in the spring. The upperclassmen on the Florida offense could see his talent after he enrolled early, but the freshman had a lot to learn about pass protection and ball security. To start the season, those issues were what kept him off the field.
Those problems have improved in recent weeks, and with the numbers thin at running back after the injury to Jones, Taylor was forced on the field. And he hasn’t disappointed.
“He's a very talented runner,” Muschamp said. “He's a guy that can certainly do some things in the run game. He's got great vision and great instincts in the run game. We've got a lot of confidence in Kelvin and what he's doing, and he has earned this opportunity.”
Muschamp doesn’t allow freshmen to talk to the media during their first season on campus, but his teammates see Taylor paying more attention to his new role.
“He looks a little more focused than he did early in the year,” fullback Hunter Joyer said. “He understands that we’re kind of relying on him now and he has to grow up and produce for us.
“He just runs extremely hard and hits the hole. He has great vision and has the quickness and the vision to get into the smallest hole. He finds them and gets into them as fast as he can.”
Taylor’s first start will come against Georgia five years after his father, Fred Taylor, was inducted into the Florida-Georgia Hall of Fame. Fred ended his career against Georgia with 49 rushes for 218 yards and two touchdowns.
The younger Taylor will look to start his own legacy on Saturday.