Florida got some good news on Monday when head coach Will Muschamp said that injured running back Matt Jones will return to play against “rivals” Miami on Saturday, the Orlando Sentinel reported.
While the Miami rivalry has died down as the Hurricanes have fallen off in recent years while Florida has risen to the top of the college football world in the SEC, the return of their presumed starting runner back for 2013 is a huge boost for Muschamp and the program.
Jones, a 6-foot-2, 226-pound sophomore, won the starting running back job for the Gators coming out of spring, but suffered a viral infection in fall camp and did not play in the opening win over Toledo.
Junior Mack Brown started in place of Jones against Toledo during the season opener and came through with 125 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries against the Rockets. An adequate performance albeit against much weaker competition than the Gators will be facing in the SEC this season.
Jones was third on the team in rushing last season with 275 yards and three touchdowns on 52 carries.
With Jones back, the Gators now have a solid 1-2 punch at the tailback spot — a bruiser in Jones and a more nimble runner in Brown. They’ll need both to step up with quarterback Jeff Driskel continuing to struggle with the downfield passing game. That passing game will be put to the test against the Hurricanes, who despite dropping off in talent have never been shy to give a full effort if it means the chance at sticking it to their in-state rivals.