RB Brown, QB Murphy ready to step up for Gators

By Adam Silverstein
August 2, 2013

Florida Gators’ 2013 Media Day: Story: Injured Matt Jones, Jon Halapio, others join Jeff Driskel on sidelines | Story: Appendectomy just a bump in the road for confident Driskel | News, Notes & Quotes – Will Muschamp breaks down the 2013 Gators | Story: It’s now or never for Florida WR Andre Debose

Redshirt junior running back Mack Brown has scratched and clawed for playing time during his first three seasons with the Florida Gators. His efforts began to show dividends last season when he got 25 touches and averaged 4.1 yards per carry.

Classmate and quarterback Tyler Murphy has worked just as hard as Brown, but he has seen even less action, never taking a meaningful snap behind center during his three years in Gainesville, FL.

As luck – or lack thereof – would have it, both Brown and Murphy will get an opportunity to make an early impact for the Gators – at least on the practice fields – in 2013.

On Thursday, head coach Will Muschamp announced that sophomore RB Matt Jones, in line to start the season as Florida’s primary back, would join junior starting quarterback Jeff Driskel (appendectomy) on the sidelines to start fall camp after coming down with a serious viral infection.

Jones’s head coach at Seffner Armwood High School, Sean Callahan, provided a bit more information in a conversation with the Tampa Bay Times on Friday.

“It came on fast and it was vicious. It really roughed him up. We were all really scared,” he said of Jones’s infection. “But he’s out of the hospital now and it’s just a matter of him recovering.”

Suddenly and unexpectedly, Brown and Murphy moved up to the Gators’ first team when practice opened on Friday. Both expressed during Florida’s media day on Thursday how prepared they are for the opportunity.


“I want to be productive, help my team out more. The last couple of years I felt like I could have made more plays, but I really didn’t do as good as I should of,” Brown told Scott Carter of the Gators’ school website.

“I feel like I’m ready,” Murphy told The Gainesville Sun’s Kevin Brockway. “I’ve worked very hard on and off the field, in the film room. I feel like a lot of my teammates have confidence in me. I feel like my coaches have confidence in me and it’s my job to continue to build that confidence within my team and coaches.”

Muschamp on Thursday declared Murphy the “clear-cut back-up” to Driskel, and the starter said he was impressed with how hard Murphy has worked throughout the three years they have competed for playing time in Gainesville.

“He’s always gone in with the [thought] that he’s one play or one injury away from being the starter,” Driskel said. “He’s really attacked the offseason like he should. He’s definitely going to get more reps than he thought here to start camp. He’s going to have to make plays, and I believe that he can.”

While Driskel’s medical issue keeping him out for an extended period of time would be the bigger loss for Florida, Jones’s potential production is not easy to replace either.

Muschamp, however, conveyed his certainty that the Gators’ stable of running backs, starting with Brown, would be able to fill in for Jones until he can get back on the field.

“I have confidence in Mack Brown, and I think we’ve recruited well at that position,” he said. “You’re not going to make it through the season with one back in our league. That’s not going to happen. You need to have multiple guys that have similar skill sets so you don’t have to change your offense every time somebody comes out of the game. But I’ve got a lot of confidence in Mack.

“When he had his opportunities last year, he played really well and he ran the ball really well. He had a good spring, and he improved on the things he needed to as far as protection and in the passing game running the football, which we’re going to ask our backs to do a lot of. … It’s a huge opportunity for him to step in and get more touches and more carries and more opportunities which, in that situation, you’ve got to be productive, and I think he will [be].”

Muschamp’s “man down, man up” philosophy, which has become one of Florida’s mantras, is already being tested on the very first day of fall practice.

10 Comments

  1. Michael Jones says:

    Mack Brown is a stud. Love Matt Jones. Love all of our players. But like with Debose, I have quietly (okay, maybe not-so-quietly) pulled for Mack Brown ever since he got to Gainesville.

    I remember both Brown’s and Debose’s recruiting and I’ve seen flashes of brilliance out of both of them. Mack Brown’s style reminds me somewhat of Tony Dorsett. I would love to see the kid have a big year.

    • Nick says:

      In Re Mack Brown is a stud. Actually he is closer to the definition of a scrub, averaging only 4.1 yards per carry in his 3rd year in the program. The season will go down the drain if Matt Jones is out for any significant length of time during the season.

  2. Roman719 says:

    i have been surprised that Brown hasn’t established himself as a quality rotation back.

    he catches the ball well out of the backfield, runs behind his pads and has a great first step…

    i can’t help but to think it may have something to do with picking up protections or parts of the offense in general.

    i can’t recall him ever being an off-field issue

    • Nick says:

      Or it might have to do more with his 4.1 career rushing average, which is pretty pathetic for a guy who has been in the program for over 3 years. No top level coach would be looking forward to relying on that type of production 5.3 to win games. (For a reference point, M Jones and Gillislee both have averages of 5.3 or greater.)

  3. John Curtis says:

    Brown had trouble with pass protection schemes and holding on to the ball. He made major improvements, last year and saw some playing time. He just wasn’t going to take many carries away from Gilly and Jones is going to be better than all of them. Brown will get many more carries, this year and with this being the SEC, he may play some entire games, if Jones gets banged up. Brown has really bulked up and it appears that he’s ready to establish himself as an elite RB. We are fortunate to have a strong RB group and when Taylor gets the play book down, it’s going to be even better.

  4. Matt says:

    Thanks for the update. I am really interested in hearing how Taylor and Lane pick things up. I think Lane is going to really surprise people. I think the references to MJD might be legit. The kid is a rock. I have heard some in the NFL say that MJD is a bowling ball with razor blades Lane is similar in stature and size. Should be fun to watch them both.

  5. Keith says:

    It’s Brown Time

  6. V02max says:

    Very excited about the future of the RB group. But I would just like to say, most importantly…

    HUNTER FREAKIN JOYNER!

    This guy destroys defenders.

    • Nick says:

      It will be interesting to see how the power run game works out with Jones running behind a dominant interior line and a sludge hammer like Joyner lead blocking.

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