Injuries continue to pile up for the No. 22 Florida Gators as the team announced today that starting running back Matt Jones is out for the season after undergoing surgery for a torn meniscus he suffered during Saturday’s 17-6 loss at LSU.
This puts an end to what has been a tough season for the sophomore running back. Expected to step in for the departed Mike Gillislee and be the workhorse at running back this season, he missed most of fall practice and the season opener against Toledo while recovering from a viral infection.
Once he returned to the lineup things did not get any easier as he lost a fumble in each of his first two games. Head coach Will Muschamp then opened up the job. Jones responded in a big way with a 176-yard performance at Kentucky, which solidified his spot atop the depth chart. However, it appears things just weren’t meant to be for Jones, who finishes the season with 79 carries for 339 yards and two touchdowns.
With the loss of Jones, Florida will now turn to redshirt junior Mack Brown, the team’s leading rusher, and true freshman Kelvin Taylor.
This could be a big opportunity for Taylor, a high-profile recruit who has seen limited action this season. The son of former Florida football great Fred Taylor has carried the ball just 16 times for 98 yards in all of three games this season, but did have 10 carries for 52 yards at LSU. Struggles in pass protection and with ball security have limited his reps thus far.
Jones becomes just the latest Gator to be added to the team’s already lengthy injury report. He is now the fifth starter Florida has lost since the start of fall camp.
Quarterback Jeff Driskel was lost to a broken leg against Tennessee. Defensive tackle Dominique Easley, who was having a monster season, tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in practice a few weeks ago. During fall practice, starting right tackle Chaz Green tore his labrum, and wide receiver and dynamic kick returner Andre Debose tore his ACL, ending their seasons.
Florida can’t seem to catch a break in the injury department, but as has been the case all season long, it’ll be next man up for the Gators when they take on No. 14 Missouri this Saturday in Columbia.