Jones ready for Missouri

Matt Jones is ready to finish the game and help his team win on Saturday.

It was a big question heading into the week, but it appears the health of Florida junior running back Matt Jones is good to go for the big game on Saturday.

"Good, good,” Jones said when asked how his ankle and knee felt on Tuesday. "Both (are) great. I practiced yesterday."

Jones came back from a freakish knee injury from last season. There was a lot of chatter that he may never play football again. But, the 6-foot-2, 235 pound bruiser of a back really did everything he needed to do to get himself ready for this season and it has shown early on. Saturday against LSU, he was inserted late in the third quarter and after a really tough game against Tennessee the week before he was a bit cautious in this game.

"I got the ball on one play going out from my end zone and I got hit on my ankle,” Jones said. “Coach Muschamp said before the game that, 'We don't need you to risk anything, our backs can handle it, stuff like that.' When I got hit, I kind of re-twisted it again, so I kind of slowed it down. I told coach, and he was like, 'OK, we're going to pull you. We've got a lot of football to play.'"

Jones said the risk of an injury wasn’t worth missing more of the season. He could have played, but thought it best to come out.

"Yeah, but it was going to be a tough time,” he said of continuing on. “I wish I would have played through it, but kind of looking at my future, too, and this season. We've got a lot of football to play here."

Jones said he will carry the ball as much as he needs to this Saturday.

"Oh, definitely, definitely, most definitely this weekend,” he said. “I feel good about my health. Like I said, I practiced yesterday, came in with no swelling. No swelling in the knee, no swelling in the ankle. I feel great about this week, the game plan and everything."

It was hard watching his teammates falter when he and they all thought it was a game they should have had.

"It was tough,” he said. “Like I said, I don't think they really needed me out there. We made a couple of mistakes here and there. Our backs handle stuff good. We just didn't execute good."

One guy that seemed to shine in Jones absence and when he got his chance was true freshman running back Brandon Powell. Powell actually led all receivers with six catches and his 66 yards was second on the team. He was a real play maker catching the ball.

"It was good for him,” Jones said of Powell. “It gives him more experience. He's a talented back. He reminds me of me sometimes because he plays as big as me and he has a lot of heart. I love the way he catches the ball, and I'm happy for him."

Jones and Powell lined up in the backfield a few times on Saturday and that is something we will probably see more even though the Gators are pretty much a one back offense right now.

"Yeah, we do have a lot of packages of us on the field at the same time."

Jones missed all of last week and with the Gators practiced a lot of quarterback Jeff Driskel running the ball. At 235 pounds, and with good speed, Driskel running it makes sense, especially when you consider there is an added blocker with the running back involved in the play. It wasn’t a surprise to see Driskel carry it that much on Saturday.

"No, that was kind of the game plan too, for him to run the ball a little bit because we knew they were soft up front,” Jones said. “Well not soft up front, but we knew they had a weak spot up front with their 'backers and stuff. So that was kind of the game plan."

But that game plan will likely change with a healthy Jones ready to go and he is ready to get the ball as many times as needed and loves the wear and tear that he and the Florida offensive line put on teams as the play goes on.

“I can feel it throughout the game,” he said. “The first half, they're kind of still hitting hard and still willing to tackle, but that second half they get tired of me coming in the hole, tired of hitting me high. They want to cut low, and that's where tackles start getting broken and stuff like that. I do definitely take pride in that."

Jones has been successful no matter who has been at the helm of the offense and that means catching the ball as well. With that in mind, he knows the team has to get behind whoever the guy is taking the snaps from center.

"Whoever's in there I'm standing behind, I'm going to protect,” Jones said. “I take pride in both of them, whoever's in there. I'm going to try to get them, because I want to win. Whoever's in there, I want to win with them, so that doesn't matter to me."

He likes the thought of defenses having to prepare for guys that aren’t exactly the same style of player at quarterback.


"I guess it'll make us a little more dangerous because people got to account for more running game with Treon, more passing game with Driskel,” Jones said. “So I think we'll be very dangerous like that."

The task at hand is Missouri and probably the best group on the field for the Tigers is their front seven. They use a lot of line games, twists, slants and everything they can up front to make things difficult, so the Florida offense has to be very aware of that.

"They've got a nice front,” Jones said of the Tigers. “They get off the ball fast. They do a lot of crazy things with their front. They slant, and their 'backers stand up tall right behind 'em. They're a good front, good defense. I watched film on them a lot. I like the way they come off the ball and get to the quarterback fast."

And this game is big. They need just a little help from some team that plays Kentucky down the road, but the Gators can somewhat control their destiny beyond that It is a crazy conference with a lot of big games and the Gators have a lot of big games ahead of them, and all of them are winnable.

"We have everything in front of us,” Jones said. “We have next up Missouri, Georgia, and Vanderbilt. We've got to win like four games straight. They're all beatable teams. We've got it right in our hands. It's just like taking candy from a baby. We've got to go get it. We're going to execute. Everybody on the team wants it. We had a tough loss. But just seeing that tough loss, we made so many mistakes. We had the game so many times. I think we can get there."

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