Photo Credit: Alex Shepherd
There still won't be a quarterback change in Gainesville this week despite another stellar performance from redshirt freshman QB Anthony Richardson, and an up-and-down affair from redshirt junior Emory Jones.
No, Florida Gators head coach Dan Mullen believes in Jones and enjoys the idea of having a quarterback room that has two very good players within it.
Following the Gators' 42-20- victory over the South Florida Bulls on Saturday, Mullen was asked plainly, is Jones still the starting quarterback for the Gators? The head coach responded in kind, yet again miffed by the question for a second-straight week.
"Yes. Like I said, we have two really good quarterbacks. You’ll see both of them play every single game," said Mullen. "You know what you never ask? Why don’t you ask who the starting running back is? Who started today?”
Of course, there isn't a controversy surrounding the running back position. That position has historically rotated players depending on who the hot-hand is on the day. Sure, there is a best of the bunch, but the QB position is much more fragile, much more important to a team's success on a down-to-down basis.
On Saturday, Richardson was as efficient as a signal-caller could be, illustrating why many have viewed him as the eventual heir to the throne that is the Gators' starting quarterback position.
In limited action yesterday, Richardson completed all three of his passes for 152 yards and two touchdowns. He would take four rushing attempts for 115 yards and a touchdown, including an 80-yard scamper that would put a cap to his day as he came up lame following the run.
Florida Gators vs. USF Bulls
Still, while Richardson didn't get quite as much time as many would have hoped to see on the day, he showed off just how valuable he is to the Florida football program, and why there are many questioning whether or not he should receive more playing time as the season moves forward.
For Jones, his day wouldn't be as fruitful. While the first half was markedly better for the redshirt junior to last week's performance, his second-half performance left much to be desired. On the day, Jones completed just 14 out of 22 of his passes for 151 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.
The two interceptions were the standout plays from Jones during the second half of the contest, two of which Mullen feels Jones would certainly like to have back.
"Those are just some growing mistakes," said Mullen. "The first one was a bad one. The second one, he just has to speed up his read. He was just late on his throw on the second one.
"Those are things you got to continue to learn. I thought he played much better this week than last week, in the first half for sure. I think we just got sloppy in the second half. You have to execute every single snap of the game there’s so few opportunities.”
Conversely, it appears as though Mullen still doesn't feel Richardson is quite ready for the duties that come with being the starting QB for the Gators. He's got much to learn, though he's exciting when he makes a couple of big plays during the contests.
"You got to read, there's a lot that the quarterback has to do, a lot of different reads that are out there on the field, so if that makes sense, I mean a lot," Mullen said of what Richardson needs to improve on as a QB.
"And you're like, 'Oh what a spectacular run.' The long touchdown was a great read. He read it properly, broke a tackle, scored a touchdown ... I have great appreciation, our fans, have great appreciation of, you know, watching things and watching great athletes out there on the field.
"And great guys make great plays out there on the field. We're pretty fortunate, we have two quarterbacks right now that can make great plays out there on the field, play both of them."
Both of them. So, while there is certainly something to make of Richardson's performance against USF, the brakes must remain pumped as the team heads into its SEC matchup against the Alabama Crimson Tide. Jones remains the starting QB, for now, but Richardson will continue to receive his reps.
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