Gators RB Matt Jones feeling “regular” again

By Adam Silverstein
September 16, 2013

If Florida Gators sophomore running back Matt Jones did not look like his normal self when he started against Miami on Sept. 7, there is a good reason for that.

Jones, speaking Monday for the first time since being diagnosed with a serious viral infection during fall camp, said he was “definitely not” comfortable when he took the field for the first time two weeks ago.

“Getting back into the game, my first game back I was a little nervous and not 100 percent running-wise,” he explained. “I wasn’t really trusting myself.”

It was evident.

Florida opened the game on offense and Jones – after rushing for nine yards on his first carry and no gain on his second – fumbled the football just past midfield.

Already questioning whether he should be on the field, the miscue put him into a worse place mentally.

“I took it bad. I was taking it bad. I felt I wasn’t ready to come back, thought I wasn’t going to be back. My coaches told me to calm down, trust myself,” he said.

The day did not get much better statistically for Jones, who finished with just 47 yards on 18 carries, but he certainly felt a positive change in the second half.

“Through the third and fourth quarter, I started feeling comfortable. I almost popped one. I started feeling my cuts,” he said.

Jones noted that he was simply not prepared for the physicality of the game – “my body wasn’t ready for the hits and stuff like that” – which makes sense considering he lost 10-12 pounds while dealing with a serious viral infection that forced him to miss a bunch of practice as well as the first game of the season.

Though he described the illness a normal stomach virus, Jones said Monday that he was in the hospital for 7-8 days. He was nauseous and unable to eat, vomited and dealt with persistent headaches.

“It was a big setback, knowing I put all that work in and I can’t go on the field now and I can’t do the things that I used to. And I know I’m going to have to work hard when I come back and stuff like that. It was hard. It was hard. Definitely hurt a little bit, too,” he said.

Jones did not begin practicing until the week of the Toledo game but was held out of action on Aug. 31 so his conditioning could return.

“Getting back on the field was kind of tough. I was fatigued a lot, trying to learn the playbook again, getting caught up with the game because the game is a little fast,” he explained. “It was definitely a tough process, but I think I handled it well.”

Jones may not have been fully prepared against UM but is also pleased that he got the chance to play and was able to shake some rust off before the Southeastern Conference slate begins for UF at home on Sept. 21 against Tennessee.

“I think it was a good thing for me to come back against Miami, get used to the game. I needed to feel the hits and how the speed of the game changed and stuff like that. I’m definitely glad that I came back,” he said.

Still two pounds away from his normal playing weight of 226, Jones said he feels “regular” these days. “I feel the way I felt like in the spring right now, moving around, catching the ball, protecting-wise, knowing everything I need to know.”

He started feeling normal again during practice last Monday and is now able to work on his cuts and bend like he had been prior to the illness.

“I think he had a really good off week,” said head coach Will Muschamp. “I think he worked extremely hard. … I feel good about where he is right now.”

Now over his health impediment, Jones can concentrate on a new season. He hopes he can make a big impact for the Gators as the workhorse running back that he was billed to be throughout the offseason.

“I definitely have big expectations. I want to take the team on my back now that I’m back and I know how the game feels now. I have big expectations just going into this game. I need to run harder and trust myself and put the O-line first and trust [Jeff] Driskel and stuff like that,” he said.

Added Jones: “I feel back to where I was during the spring. Right now, I think I feel a little bit better. I’ll be ready all through the SEC.”

Photo Credit: Associated Press


  1. Cal Burke says:

    Glad Matt is feeling “regular” again. We need him, and KT, et al. Dalvin next year is gonna be an added cool. However, it isn’t Matt’s sickness and lack of regularity that has caused us to SUCK in 3 of the last 5 important games against good teams. It is Dweff Dweezil’s IRREGULARITY that is given me what UF needs too: a serious case of the RUNs. Oh, and not the predictable runs up the middle we seem to get all the time because Pease is clueless that this is the S-E-C, but Dweff’s irregularity. A new malady that could be ICD-9 classified also as IBS: Incredible Boneheaded Stupidity. Dweff? Don’t spend all that Red Sox money having too much fun while you sink us. Also, it’s not that Pease is a complete moron. I am sure there is yak-herder herding yaks on the outer steppes of Mongolia who stops and eats “yak chips” thinking they are Oreo cookies. That one, solitary, yak herder might be more clueless than Pease. Maybe.

    • Frank says:

      Hey Cal- What do you do for a living? I mean, when you’re not making fun of a young man you don’t even know… Let’s suppose Cal, that you’re at your job, and you make some errors on your work. you’ve trained for your vocation. Your boss actually thinks you’re management material. But every so often, like one day out of twelve, you just really screw it up. How would it feel to have EVERYBODY call you names…STUPID, INCOMPETENT, “YOU SUCK CAL!!!”…”Our company would be a Fortune 500 player-IF we just could dump you and get a guy that knows what he’s doing”…Starting to get my drift? Why not give the guy a break…Like you would want if you were in his shoes. After all, it’s just a game…

      • Bob Beatty says:

        Well said Frank. Well said.

      • cal burke says:

        Wow, Fwank it’s just a game! What a wevewation, Fwank!! Now maybe you ought to live in Miami where I have to put up with people almost as big of jerks as you. Almost. And you are suppose to be a Gator? That is twice you have chosen to act like the Almighty and besmirch me.
        Fwank [with steam escaping and a wrist a limpin’]: It’sssss juuuuust a game…
        I am commenting on the FACT that Dweff sucks. Period. Pease sucks. Period. And since I am at it, Fwank, you serwiouswy suck, Fwank.
        And mark these words: Dweff will scwew up the season. This is no margin for error in the SEC.
        Let me help you out, FWANK.
        You are a troll, make it Twoll in your cleft language. Keep it up, ladyboy.
        In Internet slang, a troll FWANK (/’tro?l/, /’tr?l/) is a person who sows discord on the Internet by trying to start arguments and upset people. They may do this by posting deliberately inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as a forum, chat room, or blog, with the intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.
        While this sense of the word troll and its associated verb trolling are associated with Internet discourse, media attention in recent years has made such labels subjective, with trolling also used to describe intentionally provocative actions and harassment outside of an online context. For example, mass media has used troll to describe “a person who defaces Internet tribute sites with the aim of causing grief to families.”

        • Frank says:

          Cal…You just proved my point. As far as my Gator heritage, my dad graduated in 1948. My father-in-law in 1958. I also am an alumnus, picking up my degree in 1980. I started as a ten year old, listening to Otis Boggs on the radio…basically a Gator for life. As a kid, I’d wear the same Gator tshirt on game days for good luck (only switching when we lost :)) I bleed Orange and Blue. Stayed up many a night replaying the losses in my head, wondering what if… My senior year, my Gators went 0-10-1, with the tie coming against Georgia Tech in game one. All downhill from there…That’s why it pains me when Gator fans make judgments about players and coaches. I just get so weary after a loss with all the negative commentary. But there is a good result from our dialogue: I’ll continue to enjoy OGGOA and Adam’s level-headed approach to Gator sports coverage. I just won’t waste my time engaging in social media on this site. Cal, it’s all yours buddy…

          • You should not let one commenter – and this goes for either of you – dissuade you from contributing your thoughts and feelings on the team. All opinions are appreciated.

            And thanks for the kind words Frank.

            • Frank says:

              Thanks Adam. I introduced Only Gators to my son last year and it’s where we head first for all things Gator. More information-less opinion. And a positive perspective to boot. Concerning my commenting, I guess I’ll man-up and give it another shot…with my wife’s permission, of course ;). And Cal Burke, if you’re reading this, I want to apologize to you as a fellow Gator. Our opinions differ but as Adam stated, we both have the right to our views and the freedom to make them known. I should have never singled you out as a target of my frustration. We clearly both want the Gators to succeed. And I also promise to lighten up and not act as the Almighty (Way above my pay grade!) and besmirch you in the future. Lord knows I don’t want to be seen as lesser than those Cane fans you have to deal with. Peace? Gator “I ain’t no troll” Fwank

  2. Joe says:

    While I feel for Matt, this one is on the coaches. They knew how sick he was, how much weight he lost, how much camp and conditioning he missed. He should have been eased back but they give him 18 carries and wonder why he looked fatigued and slow. Taylor looked great at the end of the Toledo game and he should have at least got 5-8 touches. I would think a 100% Taylor > 75% Jones. Sometimes our coaches can just be too pig headed.

    • 305Gator says:

      Pig headed coaches? Like when they kept running Demps and Rainey thru the middle against SEC defenses for minimal gain while leaving Gilly wasting in the bench? Playing favorites maybe or just dumb.

  3. W says:

    I’m glad Matt is feeling regular again. Remember everybody, a diet high in fiber is important. And if you can’t get enough in your daily meals, Metamucil is always a viable alternative.

  4. Nugent1021 says:

    Its FWANK Adam.

    Still don’t understand why they didn’t put kelvin Taylor in the Miami game. Couldn’t get anything out of brown or jones when it counted in the red. Why not give the kid a chance instead of just losing the game.

  5. maporH says:

    why did florida start matt jones against miami if he wasn’t ready? he was terrible in that game and the fumble led to um’s TD. I’m not sure fla’s offensive coordinator knows what he is doing. they will lose 3-4 games this year with that bad offense.

  6. Ron says:

    Matt jones is a good RB but I just don’t he should have started that Miami game.He should have been slowly worked in the game because of his viral infection.mack brown should have started that game.GO GATORS!!!!

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