Florida RB Jones sidelined by viral infection
Quarterback Jeff Driskel isn't the only Florida offensive player that's going to miss the beginning of camp. The Gators will be without three other key starters as well.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Quarterback Jeff Driskel isn't the only Florida offensive player who's going to miss the beginning of camp. The Gators will be without three other key starters as well.
Florida coach Will Muschamp said sophomore running back Matt Jones and redshirt senior right guard Jon Halapio are out indefinitely. Jones is battling a viral infection, and Halapio is recovering from a partial tear of his pectoral muscle, which will not need surgery.
Redshirt junior left guard Max Garcia will miss the first few days of camp because of back soreness.
The biggest of the losses is the 6-foot-2, 226-pound Jones, who had an impressive spring and was set to be the Gators' workhorse back this fall. He was a third-team preseason All-SEC pick.
Muschamp said Jones is undergoing an aggressive treatment plan and will be re-evaluated next week.
"We're filling [Jones] full of antibiotics and how his body responds will tell me how quickly he can come back," Muschamp said. "I probably won't know definitively until the end of next week. It's just one of those things that happens."
Redshirt junior Mack Brown, who has rushed for 167 yards in his career, will slide into the No. 1 spot in Jones' absence. Freshman Kelvin Taylor, who enrolled in January and participated in spring practice, also will get additional work.
Muschamp said the 6-3, 320-pound Halapio, who has started 27 consecutive games, will be re-evaluated on Aug. 9. The 6-5, 307-pound Garcia will be re-evaluated on Tuesday and Muschamp said he expects him to be cleared then.
Redshirt junior Ian Silberman will work at left guard and redshirt sophomore Tyler Moore, a Nebraska transfer, will work at right guard. Moore and redshirt senior Chaz Green were expected to battle for the starting spot at right tackle.
Driskel underwent an appendectomy on Tuesday, and is expected to be out for up to two weeks.
The Gators also will be without starting middle linebacker Antonio Morrison. Muschamp, who suspended Morrison for the first two games after his second arrest in five weeks, said Morrison will not join the team for the beginning of camp. Muschamp said Morrison will eventually rejoin the team but would not reveal when.
That's a big dose of adversity for a team that hasn't even begun practice, but Driskel said he has no doubt the Gators will respond.
"Like Coach said, 'Man down, man up,' " Driskel said. "It happens all the time during the season. It's realistic of the season and the next guy's going to have to step up. That's the beauty of our team. We do have depth."
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