Florida coach Dan Mullen non-committal about Emory Jones or Anthony Richardson as Gators starting QB

By Adam Silverstein
October 20, 2021
Florida coach Dan Mullen non-committal about Emory Jones or Anthony Richardson as Gators starting QB
Football

Image Credit: ESPN Images

With the Florida Gators starting 2-3 in SEC play, unranked for the first time since 2018 and with none of their postseason goals still at reach, head coach Dan Mullen remained non-committal to whether he will be making changes to the program going forward. Most prominent among those potential changes is who could start at quarterback for the Gators ahead of next week’s rivalry game against the No. 1 Georgia Bulldogs.

Mullen said Wednesday that Florida will continue playing both redshirt junior Emory Jones and redshirt freshman Anthony Richardson, noting that the team is “really fortunate we have two great quarterbacks.”

However, he refused to answer which player will be the starter under the guise of keeping his game plan hidden from Georgia.

While initial reaction to Mullen’s comments was negative on social media, what he said is actually a change in content and tone from when the coach has been asked about his starting quarterback in the past.

Previously, Mullen would furrow his brow at the question only to confirm that Jones is the starter, saying Richardson would see the field in his normal backup role.

Now, he’s specifically refusing to name a starter. Playing the quarterback competition close to the vest is smart given Florida is about to face the No. 1 team in the nation with an all-time defense.

Whether that means Richardson will get the starting nod and/or play the majority of snaps against the Dawgs remains to be seen, but it sure seems likely that Mullen will not be handling the position status quo as he’s been through the first seven games.

After replacing Jones at LSU on Saturday, Richardson led the Gators on four straight second-half touchdown drives of 75, 75, 65 and 75 yards. Jones did not reenter the game other than for a single play after Richardson hurt his finger.

Mullen touched on other topics Wednesday during the SEC teleconference.

  • On defensive coordinator Todd Grantham: Given it is the bye week, Mullen said he’s focused on preparing for Georgia. With Grantham’s contract expiring at season’s end, Mullen said his future — and that of other assistants — would be addressed “after the season when it’s more appropriate to do those things.” Mullen did not say as much, but it does not appear as if he has any desire to make staff changes before the end of the season.
  • On the team’s recent struggles: Mullen said things like throwing four interceptions or committing 15 penalties are oddities, events that are extremely rare to occur during games. “As we fix one thing, we have an issue somewhere else,” he said. Mullen is wanting Florida to be more consistent because “when we’re not making mistakes, we’re a pretty good football team this year and playing well.” Mullen noted that all three losses so far this season have come in one-score games.
  • On recruiting problems: Mullen changed the topic and did not address the recent decommitment of four-star linebacker Shemar James, the onus for the question.

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