Florida football: Emory Jones trusts Dan Mullen, remains patient for opportunity

By Michael Phillips
November 28, 2019
Florida football: Emory Jones trusts Dan Mullen, remains patient for opportunity

Image Credit: UAA

Emory Jones is coming off his most successful two weeks since he stepped foot on Florida’s campus. Against Vanderbilt, the redshirt freshman quarterback completed 2-of-3 passes for 47 yards to go along with five carries for 34 yards and a career-high three touchdowns. He followed with a 48-yard completion and six carries for 39 yards two weeks ago at Missouri.

“He can make some special things happen on the field,” head coach Dan Mullen said of Jones. “He’s got a lot of talent, both running and throwing with his arm.”

Despite the impressive production, Jones has yet to see more than a change-of-pace role within the offense, which can be frustrating for any player. And in today’s college football climate, that can lead one to think about packing his bags to heading to a school where he can play immediately. 

However, while Jones is a bit frustrated, he has not wavered in his commitment to the No. 11 Florida Gators due to his faith in Mullen’s long-term plan. 

“It’s kind of hard for anybody, especially in my position,” Jones said. “But having him around, I mean, he always comes and pulls me to the side, tells me, ‘It’s a process,’ tells me, ‘just patience,’ and tells me one thing I need to work on. So I just focus on those things more.

“I feel like me getting better is like the biggest thing to me anyways, just getting better day by day. If I’m playing or not, I’m still bettering myself, so, I’d say that feels better.”

While Jones remains patient, he has been able to learn from redshirt junior starter Kyle Trask, who replaced injured classmate Feleipe Franks. Jones has observed how Trask goes through his reads, runs the system and lead the offense. 

“I’ve never seen him get rattled,” Jones of Trask. “I think that’s the main thing. I’ve been learning a lot from him, just like seeing him making mistakes and not getting down about it, that’s probably the biggest thing.”

As a young player, that’s one thing Jones takes to heart and uses every time he comes into the game.

“The first thing I think of when I first go out there is I don’t want to do too much; I just want to manage the game and just the flow of the game,” Jones said. 

For his career, Jones sits at 32 of 48 for 345 yards and four touchdowns through the air along with 49 rushing attempts for 232 yards and four touchdowns on the ground. It’s a solid output in his limited number of snaps, but there’s always room for improvement. 

Mullen is very tough on his quarterbacks throughout practice and is no different with Jones. He wants to see him work through his progressions more and take what the defense gives him. 

“His biggest thing that we always talk about with him, and he knows this, is just consistency,” Mullen said. “Consistently making unspectacular plays. He can make spectacular ones. But consistently make the easy, unspectacular play. I think that is always a learning curve, especially for younger guys. ‘Coach, did you see this spectacular play.’ ‘I did. Absolutely, I saw it. It was unbelievable.’ ‘Right? But what about this little simple one here?’

“Do the little things and the simple things really, really well. That’s a big part of development. That’s what he’s improving on and continues to grow on and continues to learn for him to do that.”

As this season draws closer to its end, neither Jones nor Mullen are focused on the offseason quite yet. But there is a question on the minds of Florida fans regarding Jones once the season is over.

How will spring ball shake out?

Trask has proven to everyone his ability to not only be a capable starter but a game-changer. His poise, decision-making and accuracy make him the presumed No. 1 quarterback this offseason.

Franks has already indicated that he has a decision to make once he is 100 percent healthy from his ankle injury. His sixth-month recovery means it is unlikely he will be a factor in the spring. If he stays, Mullen has to contend with the fact that Franks has 24 starts under his belt, yet Trask appears to have led the team better. If Franks leaves as a graduate transfer with immediate eligibility, that opens things up even more.

Jones’ continued improvement in controlling the offense is apparent. He has nice touch, especially on his deep balls, and certainly fits Mullen’s duel-threat spread offense better than Trask.

But is Jones willing to enter his third straight collegiate season as a backup, leaving him two years at most to start for the Gators once Trask finishes up? (Trask can also apply for a sixth season of eligibility if he eventually chooses to ask for a backdated medical redshirt.)

It will certainly be an interesting offseason, but for now, the Gators still have games left to play in 2019, and that’s all Jones is focused on. When spring comes, he will continue to be as ready he can be.

“I [will] approach it like any spring. Just going there and trying to be better and finding little things that we need to work on before getting into camp,” Jones said. ” I am focused on getting better myself and just staying focused on the next step in the process.

“Rest of the season, I just want to focus on taking advantage of my opportunities because I know they are limited. So when I get in there, I have to make something happen.”

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