Mullen to assess situation for Gators QB, faces biggest decision as HC

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Dan Mullen faces biggest decision of University of Florida head coaching career: getting started Anthony richardson quarterback or potentially lose control of the program.

It looks like Mullen made the move in the No.20 Gators (4-3) 49-42 loss to unranked LSU Tigers (4-3) on Saturday, pulling the starter Emory jones out of the game in the third quarter after throwing his second interception (a pick-six) of the afternoon.

Richardson stepped in as Florida trailed 28-13 and turned the second half into a shootout. After throwing a pass – which was intercepted – on limited shots in the first half, Richardson completed 10 of 18 passes for 167 yards, with three touchdowns throwing in an extra pick on UF’s last offensive play of the game. Richardson added 37 rushing yards for the team and one rushing score.

As a result, Florida scored on four straight records after Richardson entered, tying the game at 35 and again at 42 in the final 20 minutes of the game. Richardson’s performance brought the Gators’ offense to life and almost led to a desperately needed comeback victory for UF.

Richardson suffered a hand injury that put Jones back on the pitch in the 3rd and 12th in the fourth quarter. Jones gave a fantastic pass to the receiver Justin shorter for a first try, but three games later, Richardson returned to the game. At this point, it seemed like Richardson’s work was lost.

You’d think, given these factors, the decision would be easy for Mullen to make if it hadn’t already been made. However, when he got the chance to comment on the matter, it didn’t seem like Mullen was even close to a conclusion.

“We’re going to look at that, obviously, before a week off. We’re going to assess a lot of things, ”Mullen said when asked about his quarterback situation, as well as the Gators’ defensive performance.

“I thought you saw good things from both quarters today, saw errors from both quarters today,” he continued. “So we’ll assess that, how it’s going to play out in the future. I can jump up and down on the table on some really good things they’ve done and jump up and down on the table on some terrible mistakes they’ve made. ‘they both have, that we did, so let’s assess this part. “

Of course, Richardson’s interceptions were, in Mullen’s words, terrible decisions. On the final pitch, Richardson fell back with three LSU defenders applying pressure, rolled slightly to the right, and passed his back foot to the left side of the court, knocking the receiver significantly down. Rick wells. linebacker Damone clark undermined Wells and got an endgame turnover.

But, Jones too. On his second pick, Jones slid left under pressure and made an awkward pass down midfield, which was undermined by the cornerback. Dwight McGlothern and returned home.

And with Jones as quarterback, UF has only scored on two of their seven discs, quickly falling behind an inferior Tigers team.

Even as he continues to develop, Richardson entered a hostile environment and provided the team with something Jones couldn’t: a chance to win the match, as unlikely as a victory seemed when he entered. on the field in the third quarter.

As Mullen put it after the game – the reason he claims Richardson stayed in the game after his first touchdown – Richardson “got hot”. And as a result, “we had some momentum offensively,” admitted Mullen.

Still, Mullen – as he has done all season when Richardson drew attention – was reluctant to praise too much for the red-shirted first-year quarterback’s play and suggested this game could be used to build confidence.

One reporter viewed Richardson as a potentially transcendent player in his round trips with Mullen, to which the head coach replied sarcastically to begin his response, “We’ll see. I like everyone to label people. He’s a young quarterback who learns and develops. It’s a good etiquette for him.

Not too much of an endorsement for the quarterback who almost saved the day from a massive upheaval.

Mullen and the Gators will have a week off before facing No.1 Georgia in Jacksonville on October 30, which will give the head coach and his staff ample time to assess the quarterback position and determine. a starter.

But the answer is already pretty clear: the starter should be Richardson.

If not, who can say things won’t get worse for the Mullen and Gators offense? After losing twice to an underdog this season with below-par attacking play, how could we rule out possible upheavals against South Carolina or Missouri on the road?

Or, in the worst case scenario, what if Richardson looked elsewhere for a chance to prove himself in a guaranteed starting role? When asked if that might be a possibility after the game, Richardson wasn’t fully engaged, mentioning he was a Gator “right now” but didn’t offer much more.

“I can’t really talk about it,” Richardson replied. “Time is the only thing that can tell.”

Mullen can’t afford another upset loss this season. It would significantly tarnish his reputation at UF after seven disappointing first games in 2021 after the Gators have already lost six of their last eight clashes with the Power 5 schedules.

Losing Richardson to another school due to lack of playing time, however, could be the final nail in Mullen’s coffin as the Gators head coach. These are the types of decisions that make SEC coaches, or break them.

Stay tuned to AllGators for ongoing coverage of Florida Gators football, basketball and scouting. Follow us on social media at @SI_AllGators on Twitter and Florida Gators on Sports Illustrated on Facebook.



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