GAINESVILLE — When all is said and done, Florida could look back on Matt Jones missing preseason with a viral infection as the best thing to happen to the offense.
With the former Armwood star out, coaches were not thrilled with the freshman and needed some spark. So they asked DB Valdez Showers to move from the secondary to offense. The move has been magical, already.
On Saturday, Showers had six touches and accumulated 54 yards (two carries for 31 yards and four catches for 23) in the season-opening 24-6 win against Toledo.
While some players struggle with such a sudden change, Showers did it almost without flinching. And now, with him playing as an H-back type who can run out of the backfield or swing out and catch passes, opponents suddenly have another headache to prepare for.
“That’s going to work perfect,” Showers said. “It’s going to cause a hassle for linebackers to come out and guard me and then worry about the draw. It’s really going to open some things up for us.”
The sophomore rushed for 2,024 yards and 29 touchdowns as a senior at Detroit’s Madison High.
“Offense always seemed kind of easy to me, so it was just a matter of making sure I got the concepts down. The more we install, the more I need to learn,’’ he said.
Ronald Powell was so happy to be back on the field after missing a year recovering from two knee surgeries, he took time after the game to stop and shake the hands of fans.
“I appreciate it so much more. Before, it was kind of like going down the sideline and touching fans’ hands before you go into the locker room, but I appreciate it so much more,’’ the junior said. “I take it as an opportunity that I’m given to go out there and play in front of all those people and the support that they have, it’s a different feeling for me now. And I owe it all to my two (ACL injuries), I guess.”
Powell had one sack and helped Florida put pressure on Toledo the entire game. He led the team with six sacks as a sophomore in 2011.
UF had eight quarterback hurries, a couple of sacks (Leon Orr had the other) and five tackles for loss.
Muschamp not pleased
Antonio Morrison, Loucheiz Purifoy, Latroy Pittman, Quinteze Williams and Darious Cummings were suspended for Saturday’s season opener because of violations of team rules.
According to FloridaRivals.com, three media outlets reported Friday night that freshman DT Jay-nard Bostwick was suspended as well, but the reports were inaccurate.
Bostwick was with the team for the Gator Walk, but he did not get a chance to play.
Muschamp let reporters know after the game that he did not appreciate the inaccurate reports.
“Your opinion is fine. Take a shot at me. I’ll take shots all day,” Muschamp said. “But to take a shot at a freshman that’s done everything we’ve asked him to do since he’s been here? He is a great young man. He should have played today if we would have gotten in some situations where we could play him. ... To take that shot is wrong.
“You need to apologize to his parents and you need to apologize to that kid. You want to put your name behind something? Why don’t you come up here and tell me who your source was? That’s what I’d like to know. Who was your source? Church mice in here. If you want to write something, stand up and stand behind it.”
Jeff Driskel completed a career-high 77.3 percent of his passes (17 of 22), the highest completion percentage by a Gator since Tim Tebow hit 88.6 percent vs. Cincinnati in the 2010 Sugar Bowl. ... Kelvin Taylor, son of ex-Gator great Fred Taylor, had five carries for 43 yards as the No. 2 rusher for UF. ... Freshman Vernon Hargreaves (Wharton) had his first career interception.
David Jones, Tribune wires