GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Don’t expect the No. 12 Florida Gators to ease running back Matt Jones into action.
Instead, the Gators (1-0) plan to work Jones early and often Saturday at Miami (1-0) — a clear indication how they feel about the 6-foot-2, 226-pound sophomore.
Offensive coordinator Brent Pease said Jones, who missed three weeks of practice while recovering from a viral infection, could get as many as 25 carries against the Hurricanes.
“I’m not saying that’s what he’s going to get, but I expect him to be out there and be in the offense,” Pease said Tuesday. “We got to be smart in how we use him … and the number of reps he can handle. He’ll know the game plan. He’ll know that because he’s a smart guy. It’s just we’ll see what he can handle, but I expect he can handle it all.”
Jones was hospitalized in late July because of the infection, lost noticeable weight and spent weeks recovering. He started working out in mid-August, but team doctors were cautious with his rehabilitation. They wanted to avoid a relapse or any setbacks, especially in Gainesville’s sweltering summer heat and humidity.
He was cleared to practice and play late last month, and the Gators targeted Saturday for his return.
“I don’t really know what he’s going through or what he’s feeling, but he seems to be handling it well,” quarterback Jeff Driskel said. “I know he’s going to do everything he can to be at 100 percent. If he’s close to 100 percent, I’ll take that.”
Jones ran 52 times for 275 yards and three touchdowns last season, getting most of his work in mop-up duty behind Mike Gillislee.
Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press
This article was originally posted on ESPN.com