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One play shows why Anthony Richardson isn’t Florida’s starter yet

Coach Dan Mullen expects his electric backup quarterback to practice this week.
Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson has had big plays but has also missed some reads, Gators coach Dan Mullen said.
Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson has had big plays but has also missed some reads, Gators coach Dan Mullen said. [ JOHN RAOUX | AP ]
Published Sep. 13

While Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson dazzled off the bench in the No. 11 Gators’ 2-0 start, coach Dan Mullen has been vague about why the electric redshirt freshman remains behind Emory Jones on the depth chart.

Mullen gave his clearest insight yet Monday when asked about Richardson’s decision-making. Mullen said there was one play against Florida Atlantic when Richardson “misses a protection check, then misses a hot throw, then misses the primary read, and then scrambles around and everybody thinks, ‘What a spectacular play!’”

Mullen didn’t specify the play, but here’s one possibility: Early in the second quarter, Richardson dropped back and had two players open on short crossing routes. Another, tight end Kemore Gamble, appeared open to the right for a short pass.

Florida Gators quarterback Anthony Richardson left the USF game with a tight hamstring.
Florida Gators quarterback Anthony Richardson left the USF game with a tight hamstring. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]

But Richardson was under pressure from an unblocked defender to the right side, perhaps because of a missed protection call. Richardson stepped up, eluded the blitzer, ran right, turned upfield and gained 20 yards.

It ended up being a spectacular play against an overmatched Owls team. But would it look so spectacular against a defense loaded with talent, like this week’s opponent, No. 1 Alabama? That’s the question around Gainesville and the reason why Jones is expected to keep the starting job, despite Richardson’s performances (two rushing, two passing touchdowns so far in limited action).

Mullen said Richardson is “doing good” after leaving Saturday’s game at USF with a tight hamstring.

“We expect him to practice, and we’ll see how he comes along at practice and deals with it during the week,” Mullen said.

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