Anthony Richardson clarifies post-game comments: ‘I am a Florida Gator through and through’

By Adam Silverstein
October 17, 2021
Anthony Richardson clarifies post-game comments: ‘I am a Florida Gator through and through’
Football

Image Credit: GatorsFB on Twitter

Ears were perked and eyes were opened Saturday afternoon. As if the Florida Gators’ embarrassing 49-42 road loss to the LSU Tigers was not enough, the player fans have been most excited about throughout the 2021 season indicated he may not necessarily be that excited to remain with the program. Turns out — as one would expect for a native of Gainesville, Florida, playing quarterback for the Gators — it was much ado about nothing.

After a career performance in which he completed 10 of 19 passes for 167 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions, redshirt freshman Anthony Richardson was asked whether he was confident that he would remain at Florida this season given playing opportunities have not been plentiful since he returned from injury.

Richardson did not provide an answer that pleased Gators fans.

“I can’t really speak on [transferring if I don’t get the starting job],” he said. “Time is the only thing that can tell, but right now, I’m a Gator. So that’s the only thing that matters.”

While much was understandably made of Richardson’s comment, it seemed like it was either something said out of frustration following a loss, a message to the coaches or simply as a means of not making promises he can’t keep.

Richardson clarified his answer Saturday night in a tweet.

“I am a Florida Gator, through and through,” Richardson wrote. “Sorry if my response wasn’t clear enough, but I’m not worried about anything but maximizing my opportunity now! Don’t count us out… #GVO”

GVO, by the way, means “Gainesville’s Own”.

While Richardson put forward a terrific effort for Florida, scoring touchdowns on four straight possessions in the second half, both of his interceptions in the game were simply terrible decisions, those occasionally made by a neophyte quarterback. Both came on plays where Richardson should have either taken a sack or thrown the ball out of bounds; instead, he forced throws that more experienced quarterbacks know not to make. The first was largely irrelevant to the game’s outcome, though it did lead to seven points for LSU. The latter was disastrous, ending the game as UF was looking for a game-tying score.

The Gators now enter a bye week with their quarterback controversy ratcheted to as high a level as it has been all season. Redshirt junior Emory Jones completed 12 of 19 passes for 161 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions. Like with Richardson, the second turnover Jones threw was the most destructive as it was a pick six that even more directly led to a Tigers touchdown.

Head coach Dan Mullen pulled Jones for Richardson, and after the latter’s first touchdown drive, it was clearly his game the rest of the way. Jones only reentered to spell Richardson following an injury to his hand.

To the layman, there’s no good reason not to have Richardson supplant Jones as the full-time starter for the remainder of the season. Florida has a bye week upcoming to give Richardson two full weeks to prepare ahead of the Oct. 30 game against No. 1 Georgia, and Jones has now proven through half a season that his ceiling is limited. If both quarterbacks are going to make the same mistakes, why not go with the one who can make more game-breaking plays?

In addition to the fact that the Gators are 4-6 in their last 10 games (2-6 vs. Power Five opponents), what’s most maddening and confusing to Florida fans is that Mullen not only appears unwilling to start Richardson but needs his arm pulled just to provide the signal caller with even the most basic praise.

“I love everybody labeling people. He’s a young quarterback that’s learning and developing,” Mullen said when asked about Richardson on Saturday. “That’s a good label for him.”

That’s why Richardson was asked the transfer question in the first place. With a one-time transfer exemption now in place, he could theoretically leave the Gators and start for nearly any team in the nation next season. Why sit around behind Jones at Florida when he has clearly proven to be talented enough to start for a top-tier Power Five program?

Perhaps Mullen was just being hard-headed — as per usual — in his post-game press conference with his stance changing during the bye week. If so, this is all much ado about nothing. But if Mullen’s stubbornness keeps his feet firmly planted as usual — remember, it took an injury to Feleipe Franks for Kyle Trask to assume the starting role he deserved — then this may not be the end of talk about Richardson leaving the Gators.

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