Thursday, December 14, 2017
Colleges

Mack Brown provides Gators strong running attack

GAINESVILLE — The night before No. 10 Florida's 24-6 win against Toledo, Gators running back Mack Brown slept only four hours.

After rushing for 112 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries Saturday in his first start since high school, Brown can finally go to sleep calm.

Filling in for former Armwood High star Matt Jones (viral infection), Brown exceeded his 2012 total of 102 rushing yards in one game. His two touchdowns in the first half at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium were the first of his career.

Brown, a four-star recruit coming out of Martin Luther King High in Lithonia, Ga., in 2010, had something to prove.

"I felt like I was useless for the last couple of years," Brown said. "Getting the opportunity, I took advantage and just ran with it."

Added running back Valdez Showers: "I knew he always had it in him."

A 5-foot-11, 215-pound redshirt junior, Brown showcased the same type of physicality as a north-south runner Saturday that former Gators running back Mike Gillislee embodied in 2012.

His first rushing score, a 1-yard push down the middle, put Florida ahead 7-0 with 6:46 left in the first quarter. The touchdown was the first for the Gators on an opening drive in a season opener since 2009.

"I got butterflies when I scored," Brown said. "When I saw the hole, I just hit it."

Brown's second touchdown run, which came with 3:20 left in the second quarter, saw him follow a block from right guard Kyle Koehne and drive through Toledo's secondary for a 14-yard score.

After he lifted UF to a 17-3 lead, a gassed Brown vomited on the sideline.

"(I was) overhydrated," Brown said. "I drank like four Gatorades back to back."

After carrying the ball 17 times in the first half, Brown rushed for 8 yards on five carries in the third quarter. But the Gators, who put the game out of reach early, needed Brown for only one carry during their final drive of the afternoon.

Florida is now 13-0 under coach Will Muschamp when it runs for more than 150 yards. The Gators outrushed the Rockets 262-50.

Freshman running back Kelvin Taylor, son of Gators great Fred Taylor, added 43 rushing yards. Showers and running back Mark Herndon combined for 63 on the ground.

But Brown received more than half of UF's 48 carries Saturday. Muschamp said Brown earned them.

"Nothing shocks me with what he did" Saturday, Muschamp said. "I was expecting him to run hard and run well.

"He was the guy who had the hot hand."

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