Emory Jones' Progression
Believe it or not we are already through one-third of the college football regular season (and FSU is still winless!!) We've seen a lot from the Gators jumping out to a 3-1 record with their only loss coming in a close one to Alabama. All eyes have been on the Quarterback position with a Heisman finalist leaving for the draft, and the heir apparent being Emory Jones. Being the Quarterback at the University of Florida comes with added pressure thanks to the likes of Gator legends named Steve Spurrier, Danny Wuerffel, and Tim Tebow. All spring, summer, and fall we all heard how it was Emory Jones time to shine. We heard how he was Coach Mullen's first QB recruit as the head coach at the University of Florida. We heard about his loyalty to stay with a program for this long as a highly touted recruit. Then the games happened.
I will be the first to admit that I was less than pleased with him in his first start against FAU. They are clearly an inferior opponent and we saw mistakes that simply should not happen. He threw two picks, and you can argue there should have been a third one. To make matters worse, his backup Anthony Richardson did nothing besides come in and blast off a 75 yard run for a quick touchdown followed by numerous chunk runs.
I take full responsibility for doing something going into this season that I knew I should not have done. I compared what I saw from Emory Jones to what we saw last year from Kyle Trask. Kyle Trask was a drop back passer who could put the ball seemingly anywhere on the field that he wanted to at any given time. Teams new he was going to sling it 40 times a game, and still he routinely picked apart opposing defenses. I knew Emory Jones was not that quarterback. I knew he had the ability to scramble, use his legs, and extend plays that Trask did not. Yet, I still went into this season still hung up on the beauty that was Kyle Trask throwing the ball last year. That one's on me.
Emory has made his mistakes for sure, but what I like is that he seems to be building each week on the previous week and continuing to improve. He's consistently elevating his game. Let's look at some numbers to back up that statement before you write it off.
When you look at this table a couple of things stand out to me. First of all, his passing yards per game have increased every week despite his attempts staying relatively similar through the first four games. The interesting thing here is that his completions numbers are staying at least remotely similar too. So why the passing yards per game increase? I think Coach Mullen is beginning to figure out what works best for Emory and we are beginning to see him trust his Quarterback to get the ball downfield a little more versus screens and slants all day. The next thing I notice is that his percentage has gone up, again, every single game. He's hovered around the 64% mark, with the exception of this past week where he scorched the UT defense for a nearly 78% completion percentage. (For reference Kyle Trask's completion percentage last year was 68.9% on the year) Again, steady improvement.
Not only are his passing yards per game, and his percentages consistently going up, but I believe we are seeing his confidence consistently rise as well. He looked like a different Quarterback Saturday night against Tennessee (better competition....slightly) than he did in week one against FAU. As the season continues, look for Emory Jones to continue to improve in each of these areas, look for Coach Mullen to continue to learn what works best and grow in trust of his QB, and hopefully, let's beat those dawgs and give Emory another shot at Alabama in Atlanta. He may never be a Kyle Trask that picks apart a defense. We know that. I know that. But Emory Jones does a really good job at the things he already does well. I'll trust a guy with a proven record of being a QB Whisperer to fix the rest of it. We'll see what happens.
(Oh yeah and he's the leading rusher on a team that's third in the nation in rushing, and he's also on pace to eclipse the 1,000 yard mark on the ground.)