Florida Gators Breakout Star: Matt Jones
The No. 20 Florida Gators rolled on to an easy win over the Kentucky Wildcats, 24-7 for their 27th-consecutive victory over the program. After breaking his leg last week against the Tennessee Volunteers in week four, Jeff Driskel watched junior quarterback Tyler Murphy lead the Gators to a win. Murphy was 15-of-18 for 156 yards and an interception. Murphy added 36 yards on the ground, including a touchdown run.
But, the real star was sophomore running back Matt Jones. After running behind Mike Gillislee, a fifth-round pick for the Miami Dolphins, last season, Jones has taken the reigns. Jones ran for a career-high 176 yards on 28 carries, an average of 6.3 yards per carry. In fact, Jones gained more yards than Kentucky’s total offense. Jones’ success comes as a sweet victory after he had severe medical issues in the offseason.
In late July, Jones was hospitalized because of a viral infection. He lost a lot of weight and spent weeks recovering, after finally starting to work out with the team in mid-August. Despite being cleared by doctors to play, the training staff took extra precautions to keep him healthy with the Florida heat. He didn’t play in the season opener against Toledo, and returned in week two’s loss to the Miami Hurricanes.
As the season has progressed, Jones’ average rushing yards has steadily increased. He averaged only 2.6 yards per carry in his first game back against the Hurricane. Though he had limited carries in week three against Tennessee, Jones averaged 4.1 yards per carry. His 6.3 yard average per carry against Kentucky proves that he is ready to carry the team on his shoulders, especially with Driskel out for the season.
Lahari Subraveti is a football writer for Rant Sports. You can follow her on Twitter: @Lahari_S