Photo Credit: Alex Shepherd
Everything is clicking for the No. 13 Florida Gators in their Week 2 matchup against the South Florida Bulls today after a rough start for both units to begin the contest.
The Gators lead the Bulls 35-3 at halftime.
After a stellar Week 1 performance, sophomore QB Anthony Richardson would show off his talents yet again during the first half of this week's contest.
For Florida, making sure that the team is clicking one week ahead of its marquee matchup against the Alabama Crimson Tide was imperative. After a shallow victory against Florida Atlantic last week, 35-14, the Gators had to assert its dominance against yet another Group of 5 opponent.
The first drive for the Florida offense certainly didn't go as planned as the team went three-and-out to begin the contest on the heels of a couple of errant passes by Jones. On the second drive of the game, Jones would shake off the early struggle with a nice 20-yard completion to Rick Wells.
The drive would be all running back Dameon Pierce, however, with the big, rumbling back toting the rock for two big gains of 16 and 20 yards, respectively, before taking the ball seven yards into the end zone for an early score. Pierce showed off his strength, breaking several tackles near the goal line and staying on his feet.
Last week, starting QB Emory Jones had a shaky performance, completing just 17 out of 27 of his passes for 113 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. He would run for 74 yards.
Today, against the Bulls, Jones would have a rebound performance, connecting on 7 out of 10 of his passes for 109 yards and a touchdown, while rushing for 43 yards and a touchdown.
Defensively, Florida would get off to a hot start, forcing a quick three-and-out, including a sack by veteran pass rusher Jeremiah Moon. The second drive would be another story, however, as Florida couldn't seem to hold off the Bulls after some quick tempo by the USF passing game.
The Bulls orchestrated a 16-play, 75-yard drive, but ultimately were forced to settle for a chip-shot field goal from 25 yards out. It was a tiring drive by the Florida defense, who were able to come away with what amounted to a victory after it looked to be dire early.
The defense would settle down following this drive, allowing just 94 total yards for the remainder of the half.
The Florida offense would be sparked up after Richardson entered the game during the team's third drive of the contest, instantly hitting receiver Jacob Copeland for a 75-yard touchdown. After a sensational rushing performance by the young signal-caller a week ago, he comes on yet again with a fantastic pass for a TD.
On his next drive in the game, Richardson hit Copeland again for another touchdown strike, this time from 41 yards out.
While Richardson did plenty with his play during the first half, Jones would show off why he's shouldn't be counted out as the team's starting QB at Florida, tossing a beautiful ball downfield to sophomore receiver Xzavier Henderson for a 35-yard touchdown during the second quarter.
Jones put the football to a spot only Henderson could snag it for his best toss of the season.
The story of the first half will be the stellar play of the two quarterbacks for Florida. Both Richardson and Jones showed off just why Gators head coach Dan Mullen is fine with either operating his offense this season. Both were dominant on the ground and through the air.
First Half Stats:
Total yards: 365
Richardson - 2/2, 116 yards, two touchdowns, 18 yards rushing
Jones - 7/10, 109 yards, one touchdown, 43 yards rushing, one TD
Run game - 18 runs, 140 yards, two touchdowns
Yards allowed: 143
Tackles for Loss: 5
Interceptions: 1 (Kaiir Elam)