Florida vs. Georgia: QB Anthony Richardson makes first career start for Gators in rivalry game

By Adam Silverstein
October 30, 2021
Florida vs. Georgia: QB Anthony Richardson makes first career start for Gators in rivalry game
Football

Image Credit: Courtney Culbreath / UAA

After seven weeks of uneven play under center, the Florida Gators have made a change to the most important position on the field by elevating redshirt freshman quarterback Anthony Richardson into the starting role in Saturday’s rivalry showdown with the No. 1 Georgia Bulldogs in Jacksonville, Florida. Richardson, who has has played in every game for which he was cleared medically this season, will make his first career start in the Gators’ biggest game of the year.

Through five appearances this season, Richardson has completed 21 of 37 passes for 392 yards with five touchdowns and three interceptions; his turnovers have come over Florida’s last two games. He’s also rushed for 348 yards with three touchdowns on the ground.

Though Richardson is actually completing 10% fewer passes than the man he’s replacing, redshirt junior Emory Jones, he’s also had 139 fewer attempts and has rarely been given a chance to get in rhythm. Richardson has largely played in spots behind Jones, taking individual series before heading back to the bench.

He posted a number of breakaway plays over the first two weeks of the season when he completed 6 of 11 passes for 192 yards with two passing touchdowns and rushed 11 times for 275 yards with two more scores against FAU and South Florida, but Richardson’s true breakout came two weeks ago against LSU. With UF floundering early in the second half, Richardson took over at quarterback and led four straight touchdown drives even as the Gators still fell short of beating the Tigers.

Richardson missed two games this season after straining his hamstring against USF in Week 2. Florida head coach Dan Mullen was careful not to play Richardson too soon for fear of more seriously injuring the hamstring, but once Richardson was cleared, he did not get the snaps most expected given his performances in those first two appearances.

Whether Richardson will have more long-term success with the offense than Jones remains to be seen, but given Jones (10 touchdowns, nine interceptions) has been mistake-prone and largely unsuccessful with the Gators out to a 4-3 start this season made this a opportunity Mullen had to take.

Mullen was mum all week as to who would start for Florida as Georgia took a similar stance regarding its quarterback situation, not announcing a starter between Stetson Bennett IV and JT Daniels.

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