Last season, the Florida Gators ran their offense through their running game and Mike Gillislee was their work horse. With Gillislee moving on, the running game will fall to Matt Jones in 2013. After some struggles to get things going early in his freshman season, Jones has found his stride in the Gators’ offense and will be ready to roll through the SEC next fall.
Jones emerged as the primary backup to Gillislee and finished the season as the third leading rusher on the team. He carried the ball 52 times for 275 yards and three touchdowns. It took time, however, for Jones to play to his size. At 6-foot-2 and 225-pounds, the burly back was trying to dance around defenders instead of punishing them with his size and earning the hard yards.
The coaching staff recognized the issue and had a sit-down with Jones about his running style. They preached to him about sticking his foot in the dirt and getting north and south, using his strength to get upfield and push piles for those extra yards. By hitting the hole with authority, it would spring Jones into the open field where his excellent speed would get him to pay-dirt.
Will Muschamp doesn’t want to see that same indecision plague Jones in his sophomore season. The coaching staff has worked with the young back extensively on playing to his strength and running with power to carry the Florida running game. As he finds his groove as a runner, Jones will develop into a phenomenal back who could become the best in the SEC.