As the Florida Gators made their way off the field Saturday afternoon in Baton Rouge, one thing had become clear: it was time for a starting quarterback change. During the game, the Gators looked desperate for any type of momentum on offense, so Coach Mullen made a switch at quarterback that could define the rest of the season.
The LSU defense was causing problems for Emory Jones, but more than anything, Jones was causing problems for himself. Jones had thrown two interceptions, bringing his season total to nine. Nine interceptions is the most thrown by a Florida quarterback since Jeff Driskel threw ten in 2014.
The versatile Anthony Richardson came into the game and led Florida to four touchdown drives, bringing the Gators within seven, even after he threw a pick-six on the 3rd down play he was subbed in for. He then led Florida the rest of the second half, finishing with 167 yards passing and 37 yards rushing. He looked like a veteran, leading his team down the field in hopes of a comeback win.
But let’s get back to Emory Jones for a minute because he deserves it. Jones has undoubtedly been a good sport about the whole situation, even with fans calling for him to be benched. He brought this team back from the grave against Alabama and led them to a win over Tennessee. But sometimes you just have to make the right decision for the future of the program.
Right now, this Florida football team has nowhere to go. They sit 4-3 on the year with a game against No. 1 Georgia in twelve days. It’s time for Dan Mullen to look towards the 2022 season and realize that Richardson could be the guy who can lead them in the future. He certainly showed he could on Saturday. Richardson needs to start getting the reps and the experience needed to become the full-time starter.
Mullen was asked after the game about the quarterback situation.
“We’re going to look at that, obviously, going into a bye week,” Mullen added. “We’re going to evaluate a lot of things. I thought you saw some good things from both quarterbacks today, saw some mistakes from both quarterbacks today. So we’ll evaluate that, of how that’s going to play out moving forward. I can jump up and down on the table on some really good things they did and jump up and down on the table on some terrible mistakes that they both, that we made, so we’ll evaluate that part of it.”
No, there’s really nothing to evaluate, besides how the team can make this transition as smooth as possible for both sides. This Florida team has lost six of their last eight games against Power Five teams. They cannot continue this slide, if contending for a National Championship in the next three years is on their agenda.
There are other concerns as well. After the game, Richardson was asked about his future in Gainesville and whether fans should be worried he might transfer after the season.
“I can’t really speak on that,” Richardson said after the game. “Time is the only thing that tells. Right now, I’m a Gator.”
It’s time for Dan Mullen to give this team a spark in the first half, and not wait for things to go wrong. Richardson deserves the opportunity to be the starter, and he’s proven it on the field. This football team has nothing to lose since they are now just playing for pride and a decent bowl game.
Oh wait. There is one other crucial thing this football team will be playing for in twelve days.
Ruining Georgia’s perfect season, and Richardson under center gives them the best chances of doing it.