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Florida, USF have very different quarterback philosophies

If Dan Mullen had the same methodology Jeff Scott did, Anthony Richardson would be the Gators’ starter.
Florida Gators quarterback Anthony Richardson has been dynamic through two games, but UF isn't ready to make him the starter yet.
Florida Gators quarterback Anthony Richardson has been dynamic through two games, but UF isn't ready to make him the starter yet. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]
Published Sep. 16
Updated Sep. 16

As No. 11 Florida and USF continue their two-quarterback plans, their differing philosophies are obvious.

Bulls coach Jeff Scott explained his strategy with Timmy McClain and Cade Fortin last month: “I want my wife to be able to come to the game and be able to say, ‘That’s your best quarterback right there.’ It needs to be that obvious.”

If Gators coach Dan Mullen operated that way, UF would have switched from Emory Jones to Anthony Richardson. The backup leads the nation in yards per rush (25) and would lead the nation in yards per pass (17.5) if he had enough attempts to qualify for leaderboards.

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

But Mullen is sticking with Jones, who’s more experienced and has a better knowledge of the system. The best quarterback might not be the right one right now for Mullen.

The Florida Gators are sticking with Emory Jones as their starter.
The Florida Gators are sticking with Emory Jones as their starter. [ ARIELLE BADER | Times ]

There are trade-offs to both approaches. Throw a young quarterback in too early, and you risk hurting his long-term development. UF experienced that with Feleipe Franks in the Jim McElwain era.

Wait too long to make the change, and you get what happened when Scott’s former team, Clemson, visited No. 1 Florida State in 2014. The Tigers played Cole Stoudt for three series (punt, missed field goal, punt) before switching to freshman phenom Deshaun Watson, who led the Tigers to a pair of scores in his first three drives.

Deshaun Watson helped take No. 1 Florida State to overtime in 2014. Would Clemson have won if he had played the whole game? Or would the Tigers have been jeopardizing his long-term health and development?
Deshaun Watson helped take No. 1 Florida State to overtime in 2014. Would Clemson have won if he had played the whole game? Or would the Tigers have been jeopardizing his long-term health and development? [ MARK WALLHEISER | AP (2014) ]

Clemson lost 23-17 in overtime. Would the Tigers have upset FSU if Watson had played earlier? Or would Clemson have jeopardized his long-term health and development by starting him earlier?

That’s the dilemma facing the Gators and Bulls as their two-quarterback plans move into a third week.

Related: Have the Florida Gators’ lines improved enough to upset Alabama?

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