Coran Taylor probably did not expect to see much playing time this season, but he nearly led a comeback win for Illinois in Week 2.

Things were definitely shaken up for the Illini when starting quarterback Brandon Peters tested positive for COVID-19. That means Peters must sit out for 21 days at least while Illinois also held out backup QB Isaiah Williams in Week 2 as a result of contact tracing.

Matt Robinson received the start against Purdue, but he was unfortunately injured after just four pass attempts. That meant Taylor was thrust into the spotlight.

Taylor did have some mistakes with two interceptions and two lost fumbles, but he also did enough to give Illinois a chance to tie the game late. He threw for over 270 and two touchdowns and came up just short of tying the game.

On Monday, Illinois OC Rod Smith discussed what he liked from Taylor’s performance. Jeremy Werner with the Illini Inquirer shared Smith’s comments:

“Obviously, our situation everybody knows what happened. I’m going to give Coran Taylor a lot of credit because he was strong enough mentally to go in and accept the challenge and really go in and allow us to compete in a game. He helped bring us back. Obviously, you want to limit the mistakes, and there were some critical mistakes. But at the same time, he also had us in a position to where we were going to at the end have a chance to win the ball game. That’s all you can ever ask for is to allow your quarterback to get your offense in a position to win a football game, and that’s where he had us toward the end.

“Hats off to that young man, I thought he showed a lot of fortitude and just some leadership. I’ve seen more leadership out of him these last two days than I’ve seen since he’s been here. I’m really, really encouraged. I’ve been encouraged with his development anyway. I said to our staff in the beginning of the season, there’s something about him, he’s changed, he’s grown up, he takes stuff more seriously now, and he’s gotten better. He really has. I think now he sees this as his opportunity. This is his time, and he’s trying to maximize it.”

Considering the uncertain nature of Matt Robinson’s injury and the fact that Isaiah Williams and Brandon Peters are both confirmed out for Week 3, Taylor may get another shot to step up this weekend.