- Chris Low, ESPN Senior Staff Writer
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All eyes were already on Florida's offense this season and whether or not the Gators could make the kind of leap on that side of the ball that would propel them to an SEC championship.
They won 11 games a year ago despite finishing 12th in the SEC in total offense and 10th in scoring offense.
There's optimism coming out of preseason camp that the Gators will be better on offense, but they'll start the season shorthanded. Running back Matt Jones and offensive guard Jon Halapio are still ailing and will miss the opener against Toledo. Halapio (torn pectoral) will also miss the second game against Miami, and Jones (viral infection) is questionable for that game.
Florida has an open date after the first two games and then kicks off the SEC season on Sept. 21 against Tennessee. The Gators are hopeful that both Jones and Halapio will be back in time for the Vols' visit to the Swamp.
With Jones out, this is a huge opportunity for redshirt junior Mack Brown. He came to Florida as one of the top running back prospects in the country but enters this season with just 40 career carries. The Gators certainly want to throw it better this season, and will need to, but they're never going to get away from a physical running game as long as Will Muschamp is coach. That means Brown could come close to equaling his number of career carries in the first two or three games.