With eight days to go before his team’s first game, Will Muschamp met with the media and gave an answer that raised more questions about Florida’s running back situation.
“Matt Jones’s going to have some more blood work done on Monday. He will be out for Toledo. He’s questionable from there on out, but he’s doing very well,” Muschamp said.
The first part wasn’t new news. We’ve been hearing that Jones has been getting “blood work” done ever since Florida Media Days August 1st. Jones has been out indefinitely since then, and he still is.
He’s been around the facility exercising; he even was out on the field before Florida practiced Tuesday in a helmet and shorts running around. Muschamp also said they add to Jones’ physical plate every day, he’s now lifting weights, something he hadn’t been doing until recently.
“He seems fine. We just know it’s medical clearance as far as they say. He could have some kind of relapse if you tax him too much early is basically what they’ve told me. I’m just doing whatever they tell me he can do as far as our strength staff is concerned,” Muschamp said.
So the question is: what about the guys behind Jones?
Sliding into the role vacated by the dreaded workhorse is Mack Brown, a redshirt sophomore who has never scored a rushing touchdown but has amassed 167 yards in his career. Behind Brown, former walk-on sophomore Mark Herndon, who got offered a full scholarship by Florida on Tuesday, he’s seen action in six games on special teams.
Next up in the RB pecking order, according to the coaches, is converted safety Valdez Showers. By all accounts Showers’ versatility is something that has allowed him to shine during practice, he’s drawn numerous comparisons to former Gator Omarius Hines. No matter what role Showers needs to fill, Muschamp is confident in him.
“Whatever it takes to win the game. He’s certainly capable,” Muschamp said.
Behind those three stands two freshmen. One, a particularly notable Florida legacy in Kelvin Taylor; the other, is the hardest man to tackle on Florida’s roster, 5’7” 222-pound Adam Lane.
“We haven’t made a decision on Adam Lane or Kelvin Taylor yet. Right now both of those guys are taking some reps, and you never know where the season progresses and what they can or cannot do,” Muschamp said.
With news that guard Jon Halapio is out for at least the first two games of Florida’s season, the running game, Florida’s strength, may be in a bit of peril heading into the season with untested players being counted on to tote the rock.
“We got a lot of confidence in Mark and Mack and Valdez. To continue how those young guys practice, see how they will figure into that as well,” Muschamp said.
Having confidence in backs during fall camp scrimmages and in practices without live tackling is one thing, but in eight days the real test for Florida begins. Will the running game be strong enough to pass it?