What a difference a year makes. In August of 2013 Florida headed into the season with question marks surrounding its backfield. Starter Matt Jones had yet to practice due to a viral infection, next in line was redshirt junior Mack Brown and his 40 career carries, and Kelvin Taylor was buried towards the bottom of the depth chart due to ball security issues.
Fast forward a year and we find Taylor taking first team snaps, a healthy Jones eager to balance the workload, and Brown having experience outside of cleanup detail. The stable is loaded, and it’s go time.
“I feel like every last one of our backs are starting running backs,” Taylor said. “All of them are going to help us in some kind of way. If it’s 3rd and 1, we put Jones it. 2nd and short, we put Mack Brown in. I feel like all of us are going to be ready to go.”
As for himself, Taylor has taken a yeoman’s mentality this offseason by keeping his head down, bettering himself, and trusting in the team’s new system.
“I’m just ready to go out there and just keep working hard every day, keep getting better and just trust my offensive linemen and everything else is going to fall into place,” Taylor said. “I’m just ready to have a great year this year.”
Taylor isn’t the only Gator to have taken notice of the backfield’s meaty potential. Junior offensive lineman D.J. Humphries offered high praise to the unit, calling it “world class.”
This time last year Florida opened the season riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave, chasing lofty expectations. The successes from 2012 obscured glaring weaknesses. Then the wave broke and rolled back into a 4-8 mire.
This year finds a much lower bar, with tempered expectations, and successes that are hoped for, rather than preordained. For its part, the squad, though digging itself out of an embarrassing rut, appears in better position to maximize potential than it was 365 long days ago. The veil has been pulled back, and a healthier, hungrier team is ready prove itself.