QB1: Emory or Anthony?
Saturday night the Gators took the field to an electric Ben Hill Griffin Stadium that was packed out, whited out, and ready for a party. To start the game, that’s exactly what they got. Two straight drives leading to two straight touchdowns by the Gators with Emory leading the charge.
Then there was drive three.
Drive three, strictly due to Coach Mullen just rotating his guys, saw Anthony Richardson coming in to play QB. He, just like Emory, marched the team right down the field. After a run which ended in him being tackled and losing his helmet, he was forced to the sideline. No issue, in comes Emory once again. He immediately throws an interception on a horrible read and the Gators had their first turnover of 2021. On the next drive Emory marched the Gators down again, only for their to be some sort of miscommunication on fourth and goal. Emory apparently thought a QB Sneak was the call, and judging from Mullen’s reaction, it certainly was not. Now I don’t want to put that on Emory necessarily because the play could have been signaled in wrong. Mullen said Emory got the wrong signal/wasn't sure what the play call was. He said fixing that comes simply with experience. Either way it was another missed redzone opportunity for the Gators.
After a less than stellar second quarter, the Gators went into half only up 14-0, with all of their points coming on the first two drives.
The real story of the night began later in the game though, when Anthony Richardson was given the ball again. It didn’t take long at all to realize this kid was special with the ball in his hand. He had the “it factor” so to say. On his first drive of the second half all he did was go 7 plays for 73 yards in 2:38 for a touchdown. That drive showed his legs on a 26 yard run to start the drive as well as his arm on a deep ball to Ja’Markis Weston. His second drive was a rather quick, two play, 74 yard drive again with 73 coming off his own legs on an electric QB run where he just ran away from FAU. By this point twitter was starting to go wild. The announcers were chatting about him and his potential depth chart placement moving forward. AR15 had officially put the world (or at least Gator Nation) on notice. Then comes his third drive. By this point it was 100% mop up time, but Coach Mullen wanted to throw some more at him to see how he responded. He overshot a couple deep balls, but added 33 more yards on the ground on this drive to help the Gators reach 400 rushing yards in the game. One of the plays included a ridiculous hurdle that is now seen everywhere on social media, and can be bought as a t-shirt on Anthony Richardson’s site shopar15apparel.com. Even Coach Mullen himself couldn't help but say "He's exciting with the ball in his hands isn't he? I think he's going to be a great player for us and you saw that tonight."
After the game Mullen made himself Twitter famous with a confused reaction when Cole Cubelic asked him about the potential QB controversy. “Emory is our starting quarterback.” Was his response and that shook Gator Nation, or me at least. Not even open competition this week? Not even let AR start against any inferior USF Saturday and see what he can do? Nope, not according to Dan Saturday night.
I’ll admit to getting caught in the moment Saturday, tweeting (multiple times) that AR should be QB1 and that Emory hasn’t done anything to help himself out. I truly became a creature of the moment. Now a couple days removed, my thoughts are exactly the same. I think it's inevitable that Richarson WILL BE QB1 at some point this year, although it may not be as quick as some would hope. As far as a QB controversy goes, Mullen had this to say. "They're not very controversial guys. They're both really nice guys." In an attempt to kind of shake off a question that everyone seemed to be asking, media and fans alike. But Mullen is not wrong, shortly after the game both Emory and Anthony took to social media to hype the other up. Emory even flashed a smile when asked about Richardson in a post-game inerview with Cole Cubelic. They seem to be each others biggest fans and that makes for a very healthy QB room as the fanbase argues about who should be getting the lions share of the reps moving forward.
We all know by now that Coach Mullen will start Emory this week at USF. By all accounts he’s earned it given his sticking around the program and waiting his turn. He has to know the playbook better. He has to feel more comfortable in the offense. He should have more of a bond with his receivers. But he also better perform, because he has a generational talent riding his heels eager for his opportunity to shine. His name is Anthony Richardson, or as so many have grown to adopt the nickname, AR15.