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Thursday, December 27, 2012
Tagging the Gators: LB Michael Taylor

By Michael DiRocco

Editor’s note: Each day between now and Florida’s Allstate Sugar Bowl date with Louisville, GatorNation will review the season for a key Gators player and attempt to project what’s next. Today we’ll look at LB Michael Taylor.

LB Michael Taylor
Redshirt sophomore
29 tackles, 1 sack, 1 interception, 1 QB hurry, 1 pass breakup

Spencer Ware
Gators linebacker Michael Taylor (51) provided solid depth in 2012. Can he step forward as a starter next season?
Role in 2012: Taylor backed up starting MLB Jon Bostic but got significant playing time. He started the LSU game in place of WLB Jelani Jenkins, who was still dealing with a thumb injury.

The good: Taylor is another physical player who is a bit undersized (6-foot, 226 pounds), but he gets the job done. He’s best against the run. He’s able to weave his way through blockers to get to the ball carrier and also does a solid job of getting off blocks. Taylor capably filled in for Jenkins and made a season-high five tackles against LSU.

The bad: Taylor struggles in pass coverage. He’s not fast enough to run with most tight ends down the field and has trouble staying with tight ends and backs on short routes over the middle or in the flat. The coaching staff took him out on obvious passing situations and subbed in Antonio Morrison. Not being an every-down linebacker will hurt him as he tries to crack the starting lineup with Bostic graduating.

Crystal ball: Taylor is able to play all three linebacker spots, but not being good in coverage limits his effectiveness. It’s likely that he’ll remain a backup and spot starter in 2013, especially if Morrison is able to add enough bulk to play in the middle. If that’s the case, then Taylor will likely end up at strongside linebacker and be the one who goes off the field when the Gators are in nickel.