Trace: The upcoming opponent, No. 1 and reigning national-champion Alabama, checked in second.
Fan buzz, social media, common media, message boards, you identify it. The fallout of the weekend’s 42-20 win over South Florida in Tampa solely threw gasoline on the hearth that Anthony Richardson ignited within the season-opening defeat of Florida Atlantic the weekend earlier than. After speeding for 160 yards on simply seven carries towards the Owls, Richardson took 11 snaps over 4 collection towards the Bulls. Here is how they (the performs) and he (the child generally known as “AR15”) went:
- 1 play, 75-yard landing move to Jacob Copeland.
- 6 performs, 80-yard TD drive, with 1 rush for 18 yards, plus a 41-yard TD move to Copeland.
- 3 performs, runs of 9 and eight yards, then a 36-yard completion to Copeland.
- 1 play, 80-yard landing run.
After the sport, Mullen fended off a barrage of questions on any quarterback controversy, defending starter Emory Jones, the fourth-year junior who had a protracted TD move and run but additionally threw a pair of interceptions for the second straight week, and tempering expectations for Richardson, the 6-foot-4, 236-pound redshirt freshman freight prepare. The UF coach made clear he understood all of the exterior consideration, however reminded everybody that, for now, there have been 10 different non-QBs on the sphere that merited his consideration, earlier than throwing in a veiled (perhaps for enjoyable) reference to a two-quarterback offense he has but to indicate.
Who is aware of? Possibly this week. Possibly for the mighty Crimson Tide.
Both method, the skin noise — and all of the free recommendation on the radio waves and web sites — will not be a figuring out issue.
“I will be trustworthy with you, I do not take heed to many recommendations,” Mullen mentioned. “Should you’re in our employees assembly I’ll take heed to your suggestion, [but] I do not run all the way down to Shands Hospital and say, ‘Boy, I believe you need to actually try this process this manner.’ I believe these guys most likely obtained that underneath management, you recognize? So, they’re the folks, they’re the consultants who’re doing it.”
And he is accountable for the Florida quarterbacks, each of whom are going to play. For now, Jones is the starter. As for Richardson, who hobbled off the sphere following his 80-yard sprint after tweaking his hamstring, Mullen mentioned he was doing “good,” nonetheless had some tightness, however was anticipated to apply and be intently monitored this week because the Gators (2-0), as much as No. 11 within the Related Press ballot, bee-line for Saturday’s showdown towards the top-ranked Tide (2-0) in what’s being billed as the most important sport at Spurrier/Florida Area in additional than a decade.
Alabama would be the first AP No. 1 opponent to return to the “Swamp” since Miami in 2002. The Gators are 15-point underdogs on their dwelling area.
“We have been speaking about this sport for a very long time, all offseason,” mentioned senior defensive finish Zachary Carter, who leads the staff in sacks (3) and tackles for loss (5.5). “Clearly, it is one of the crucial anticipated video games this 12 months. It is a huge sport, however we simply should play our sport. We won’t let the stage be too huge. For this reason you come to Florida; to play in video games like this.”
Alabama, in the meantime, performs video games like this each time it goes on the street. The Tide have been ranked No. 1 when the met the Gators within the Southeastern Convention Championship Recreation final Dec. 19 in Atlanta in what turned out to be a wild offensive shootout. In a sport that featured almost 100 factors and greater than a thousand yards, Bama prevailed 52-46 — the Tide’s solely single-digit victory in a excellent 13-0 pandemic 12 months marketing campaign — then went on to crush No. 4 Notre Dame and No. 3 Ohio State to win the sixth nationwide title in Coach Nick Saban’s 14 seasons.
His fifteenth season began with a 44-13 demolition of 14th-ranked Miami in Atlanta, adopted by Saturday’s 48-14 dwelling over FCS opponent Mercer. The date with the Gators will mark the SEC opener for each groups.
“We’re wanting ahead to the problem of enjoying on the street in a tough place to play,” Saban informed reporters Monday in Tuscaloosa. “Throughout [Florida] is an excellent staff, and it will be a difficult sport for us. We have to have nice focus and nice preparation.”
Saban would disagree, in fact, however the Gators will want better focus and better preparation.
Concerning the latter, it is protected to imagine that what Florida has voluntarily proven relative to scheme by means of two video games they entered as 24- and 29-point favorites, respectively, has been fairly primary. Mullen, in reality, was requested Monday how a lot of his playbook had but to be revealed.
“Rather a lot,” he mentioned. “We have saved it fairly easy the primary two weeks. I believe as you go, the totally different personnel and using totally different personnel in numerous methods, is one thing we’ll take a look at all through the course of the 12 months that we get into.”
Here is betting the opponents had one thing to do with it, as nicely. OK, so perhaps the Gators will not roll out a two-quarterback offense, as Mullen referenced, however his status as among the best offensive play-callers within the nation is nicely deserved. It’s going to must be towards a program that performs with the self-discipline demanded by Saban.
“Everyone’s saying this and that about us within the first two video games, however they have not seen the whole lot,” mentioned Copeland, the junior wideout who hauled in 5 passes for 175 yards and the 2 touchdowns Saturday. “We have not confirmed a lot as a result of we’re like, ‘You may’t expose your hand like that earlier than you see Saban.’ He’ll construct off that and it is over. I really feel like, now, they do not see an excessive amount of. I really feel like we’ll come out at apply this week and execute nicely and simply do what we do.”
Which begs the query: Will Jones bounce again from a second uneven efficiency and execute higher with a extra artistic sport plan?
By the 2 video games, Jones has accomplished 31 of his 49 passes (63.3 p.c) for 264 yards, two touchdowns and 4 interceptions. He is additionally rushed 23 occasions for 155 yards (6.7 per) and a rating. Richardson is six of 11 by means of the air with a pair of scores and no picks. He is rushed 11 occasions for a SEC-leading 275 yards — a mere 25.0 per try — and two touchdowns in his restricted collection.
The Richardson wow issue has been simple, however it hasn’t all the time gone in response to script, as Mullen defined when requested for an instance of an “AR15” mistake.
“A simple one could be in case you return a pair video games,” Mullen mentioned. “He drops again, misses a safety test, then misses the ‘scorching’ throw, then misses the first learn, after which scrambles round and runs somebody over and all people thinks, ‘What a spectacular play!’ “
From the bleachers or from the lounge it is simple to react with, “OK, however so what?” However the consequence of that “spectacular” play towards FAU or USF may look very totally different towards Alabama; and never essentially in a great way.
Within the first two video games, Richardson has entered on UF’s third possession. Assuming the hamstring is sweet to go, what about Saturday?
“Properly, we’ll see. We sort of go in with a plan relying on the sport, and we sort of schedule the plan off of every,” Mullen mentioned. “There are some circumstances perhaps that will change that, however I imply all people is sort of on plan going into the sport that, ‘Hey, you are going to play the third collection.’ You already know, we’ve got that getting in and we all know what we’ll do. Now, there are circumstances that might have an effect on that, and there have been Saturday circumstances that will have an effect on if he went in and when he went in. In order that’s all the time up there altering.”
On the Alabama facet, sophomore Bryce Younger, out of Pasadena, Calif., has just about picked up the place Mac Jones, a first-round draft decide and All-SEC quarterback final season, left off. He is accomplished 70.8 p.c of his passes for 571 yard and 7 touchdowns with out an interception.
“I see how relaxed he’s within the pocket and he has good pocket presence and consciousness, so I really feel like this week we’ve got to do a great job with our rush lanes and simply maintaining in thoughts, attempting to cage him within the pocket,” Carter mentioned of going up towards Younger. “He is a fairly elusive man.”
The Tide’s prime two rushers, Brian Robinson Jr. and Trey Sanders, are averaging 5.9 and 4.7 per sport for a unit that checks in fifth-best within the league at 462.5 yards sport.
For what it is price, Florida ranks first within the SEC in whole offense 609.5 yards per sport and first within the nation in speeding at 381.5 per, because of Richardson. The distinction, in fact, is that as a substitute of two- and three-star defenders, like FAU and USF, the Gators can be up towards a bevy of five-star and future first-round draft picks (the Tide had six this 12 months). Alabama at the moment charges fourth within the league in whole protection at 241.0 yards surrendered per sport — and simply 67.0 on the bottom.
“Anytime you get the chance to play the No. 1 staff within the nation it’s a nice, nice deal.,” mentioned Mullen, who’s 0-10 for his profession towards Bama, with 9 of these losses throughout his 9 seasons at Mississippi State. “I believe it will be nice for this staff to see the place we’re are this level of the season. Clearly it is a lengthy 12 months. The result of this sport definitely shouldn’t be going to outline the season both method. There’s plenty of soccer to nonetheless be performed all through the course of the 12 months, however it’ll be a great measuring persist with the place we’re at at this level of the season with this staff.”