Anthony Richardson was delegated to a pure backup role at quarterback for the Florida Gators against Tennessee on Saturday night, marking the second week in a row that he manned that position.
Richardson, of course, has been rehabbing a hamstring injury suffered in Week 2 against USF. Head coach Dan Mullen has said repeatedly that if Richardson were needed, the team would play him, but out of an abundance of caution and considering the team hasn't needed him, he's remained sidelined.
That should come to an end against Kentucky this Saturday, according to Mullen.
"Yeah. 100%," Mullen responded to a question after the win over Tennessee, asked if Richardson was medically cleared for the game. "What happened with that is, again, with a hamstring deal... We got him, we built him up to speed. Got him going full speed on Friday with his MRI. Talking to the trainers and then got him full speed, he was fine. Some acceleration, deceleration stuff he started; he was a little bit tight with [it] still."
Considering the tightness Richardson dealt with in accelerating and deaccelerating, Mullen opted for starting quarterback Emory Jones to play from the first snap through the final whistle. Richardson was dressed but remained sidelined, while Jones put up a career night, going 21-of-27 for 209 yards and two touchdowns passing while also rushing for 144 yards.
Mullen shared that, according to team trainers, if Richardson spent his second game in a row in a backup role, he should be "100 percent moving forward" and ready to actually play against the Wildcats in Week 5. That ended up being the case, leaving Mullen confident about Richardson's return to action next Saturday.
"I think we're 100% now. I went with that [advice]," Mullen said. "And we're 100%, we're not waiting for the MRI on next Friday. I mean 100% starting on Monday's practice."
In his two games this season, Richardson has been unstoppable in limited action. Completing 6-of-11 passes for 192 yards and two touchdowns while rushing 11 times for 275 yards and another two scores, Richardson has a knack for making explosive plays happen that excite Gators fans everywhere.
That being said, although he struggled while Richardson shined, Jones has gotten his game together and played admirably against Alabama and Tennessee while Richardson was unavailable. Jones'performance made it pointless for UF to rush Richardson back into action - what if he were to aggravate his hamstring by doing so?
"Anthony, he wants to be out there playing. But I think also having the maturity of understanding, 'Hey ... these are some things that make me dangerous, and if I'm not doing those things, better get myself to be 100% so I can go do those things,'" Mullen explained.
"Because any time you deal with that, like I keep saying, all the sudden I'm with the trainers. If we go from, 'Hey, he can back up for us and really not miss a game as a backup' to 'if we had pressed it he could have been out for six weeks.' Now we're looking at we lose our backup," Mullen continued. "So we were very fortunate he didn't have to go in the games the last two weeks and he'll be ready to go."
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