With the 6'2", 226-pound halfback lost to a season-ending meniscus injury, joining the likes of notable inactive Dominique Easley, the hallmark of a Will Muschamp offense would appear to be at a loss had it not been for the promising showings of Mack Brown.
Will Muschamp is asked if this is the toughest year he's ever had as far as injuries go. Just nods his head.— Jason Lieser (@PBPjasonlieser) October 14, 2013
And the junior has proven to be reliable.
Brown assumed the starting role weeks before the start of the season, after Jones contracted a viral infection that sidelined him in Florida's season-opener versus Toledo. Unsurprisingly, Brown played to Will Muschamp's liking.
But it's no secret Florida lost undoubtedly its most complete offensive player.
Jones' presence is two fold: He has a knack for being a physical, hard-nosed runner, complementary of Muschamp's style, and he is the best halfback Florida can utilize in pass protection.
But it's growing increasingly clearer that Florida isn't one to run four verticals. Its offense isn't built to consistently attack defenses in spread looks. And in light of Florida's recent game against LSU, Pease doesn't have plans to turn Tyler Murphy into a volume passer.
Simply put: Brown is entering into the starting role at an ideal time.
Florida faces the likes of No. 15 Georgia, No. 14 Missouri, No. 11 South Carolina and No. 5 FSU over the course of the next six weeks—all the more reason for the Gators to run the ball.
To many's surprise, Brown is Florida's leading rusher through six games and has tallied 340 yards and a team-high three touchdowns. Most notably, his presence has been felt primarily on first downs.
According to advanced metrics from 247Sports.com's Thomas Goldkamp, only 26.67 percent of Florida's plays on first down result in no gain or a loss.
For the sake of comparison, Florida's lowest single-game percentage came against Toledo with Brown as its featured halfback. Brown rushed for a career-high 112 yards and two touchdowns. In this particular game, Brown accounted for five of Florida's 22 first downs, with two coming on 1st-and-10.
On first down carries in 2013, the Lithonia, Ga., native has rushed the ball 51 times for 190 yards and two touchdowns. More importantly, it puts Florida in more favorable down-and-distance situations.
Although Toledo may not be an LSU, or Arkansas for that matter, it should be noted that Brown was wildly productive in his lone start of 2013.
Florida's run game is generic in nature. Pease routinely dials up inside trap plays, zone stretch runs and the occasional "full house" formation to spark his run game.
And with Brown taking on a full-service role, Florida will be equally effective in the run game.
Let's examine this further.
Florida vs. Toledo
Personnel: "23" (2 RBs, 3 TEs)
In this play, Florida is lined up in "23" personnel with an unbalanced offensive line. This is Florida's jumbo package, which is used primarily as a running set.
At the snap, Florida pulls its backside guard to the strong side of the play, and with Hunter Joyer stepping out to his left, the two block the linebacker and safety pressing the edge.
With a great push by the interior lineman, Brown hits the hole quickly and accelerates through to the second level.
With offensive tackle D.J. Humphries out in front in a position to engage Toledo's lone safety, Brown just has to outrun the defenders in pursuit. Brown beats out the closing defense and scores on a 14-yard run.
On this play, Brown flashed his ability to run between the tackles and absorb contact in the open field. He showed off his natural forward body lean that allowed him to gain the extra yardage needed to score despite being consumed by a sea of defenders.
Florida vs. Arkansas
Personnel: "10" (1 RB, 4 WRs)
Here we see Florida dial up a basic sweep play from the shotgun formation to attack Arkansas' base 4-3 defense.
Brown quickly recognizes the interior defensive lineman have squeezed the running lanes inside. He kicks it outside towards the right sideline and flashes his 4.40-forty speed.
In this next image you'll see Brown take on two defenders with a full head of steam. Again, regardless of what Brown's frame (5'11", 214 pounds) suggests, the junior doesn't shy away from contact.
He lowers his shoulder and splits the would-be-tacklers until he's finally dragged down after a gain of eight yards.
Routine plays as such are the reason why Florida's coaching staff has confidence in the fourth-year junior.
Through four years, Mack Brown has yet to live up to his potential. The former No. 34 overall player in ESPN's class of 2010 has been hobbled by multiple injuries, combined for 40 carries for 167 yards from 2010 to 2012.
Now, with the meat of Florida's schedule approaching and its offense fumbling, Brown will bear a majority of the responsibility in the run game left behind by Matt Jones.