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Hogs QB Jones gives Gator LB Coach Big Headache

With two sophomore starters and a pair of true freshmen in prominent backup roles, Florida linebackers coach Bill Miller has enough headaches even without giving thought to Arkansas quarterback Matt Jones. <p> "Young as we are hope we find something new to screw up each week and not do the same thing," said Miller after Wednesday's practice. " I can live with it if it's something new." <p>

The headache this week is Jones, the multi-dimensional quarterback who is as much a threat to run the ball as he is to throw it. The 6-6, 237-pounder has run 33 times for 245 yards (7.4 average) and two touchdowns while throwing for 838 yards and six touchdowns in the Razorbacks' four games so far. In his career, Jones has rushed for 2158 yards (6.5) average and 20 touchdowns. He's thrown for 4622 yards and 40 touchdowns.

Jones is currently second on the all-time rushing list for quarterbacks in the Southeastern Conference, trailing only Mississippi State's John Bond (2,180 yards). For his career, he is ranked second all-time behind Florida's Danny Wuerffel in average yards per play at 7.48. With his next touchdown either rushing or throwing, he will tie Florida's Doug Johnson for twelfth place all-time in the touchdown responsibility category. With 35 more rushing attempts he will rank among the top five in the SEC in average yards per carry (Auburn's Bo Jackson leads at 6.6).

When he's not quarterbacking the Arkansas football team, Jones moonlights as a starting forward on the basketball team. He has also lettered in baseball for the Razorbacks in the spring.

"He's a phenomenal athlete," said Miller, who admits that tracking a linebacker with such a young group of linebackers has him "scared to death." Miller has vivid memories of last season's Florida-Arkansas game in Fayetteville in which Jones threw for 299 yards and three touchdowns while running for 57 yards on six carries.

"He outran us last year," said Miller, who starts sophomores Channing Crowder and Earl Everett at linebacker along with senior Travis Harris. "He made us look foolish on many occasions. He throws it better than people give him credit for, too. He is a great, great quarterback in our conference for the many things he does well. People talk about his running ability, but he really throws it well, too."

Miller said the goal for the Gators is to keep Jones contained. Miller believes that his linebackers have to help each other out because it's rare when one tackler brings him down.

"We'd better get a lot of fellas around him and just hem him in," said Miller. "We have to make sure he's got no place to go. Even if we catch him I don't know if we can get him on the ground. He's very fast. Last year he made some of our fast guys look foolish."

The game plan is to alter the looks and keep the pressure on, but making sure that it never comes from the same place twice.

"Have to be very intelligent in the way we rush him and contain him," said Miller. "That's easily said and hard to do."

Sophomore middle linebacker Channing Crowder says the key to beating Jones is to make him one dimensional.

"We need to just keep him in the pocket and make him throw the ball because his game because his game is about running," said Crowder. "We need to make him play out of his game and when you make anyone play out of their game you have a little edge."

Miller is pleased with the effort the Gators gave in last week's win over Kentucky, keeping the Wildcats quarterback Shane Boyd very much in check. His young linebackers showed improvement from the loss against Tennessee, but Miller knows they are a long way from playing at a level where he will be satisfied.

"Playing the kid last week really helped us," said Miller. "I had and still have a lot of respect for Shane Boyd. I thought we did a good job with the way we handled him."

The overall effort was good but there was plenty of room for improvement.

"They're working on it and it's early, but we're progressing," he said. "We're in the right direction, but we're a long way from where we need to be."

Backing up his starters this week will be freshmen Brandon Siler and Javier Estopinan. Junior Todd McCullough, still gimpy because of a high ankle sprain, should also be available for more action.

"Todd's coming around with his ankle," Miller said. "We're hoping he'll be there Saturday to help us. We will really need him."

ZOOK NOTES: Zook noted that the electricity is back on at his home after Hurricane Jeanne. "It wasn't good for my wife. When I get home it doesn't matter, the lights aren't on anyway." .... Zook called Arkansas a "very good football team, very talented, that plays with a lot of emotion." ... The coach is impressed with the way his defense got after Kentucky. "They (the defense) are talented, they run to the football. I told them Monday I was impressed with the way they chased the football. If they continue to learn from their mistakes and chase the football we've got a chance to be a pretty good defense." ... Zook says he is impressed with Arkansas freshman running back Peyton Hillis, a 6-2, 250-pounder.

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