Sunday, December 5

Dan Mullen can’t follow the same quarterback script if Florida wants a shot at Alabama

Florida coach Dan Mullen explained his method of handling suggestions before Saturday’s meeting with No. 1 Alabama.

“I don’t hear a lot of suggestions,” Mullen said at his weekly press conference. “If you’re at our staff meeting, I might listen to your suggestion. I’m not running to Shands Hospital and saying, ‘Wow, I think you really should do that procedure this way.’ I think those guys probably got it under control. ”

The most frequent suggestion for Mullen this week revolves around rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson, the rookie quarterback who made the most of his sample in two games.

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Richardson has hit 6 of 11 passes for 192 yards and two TDs. He has 11 carries for 275 yards and two TDs. That’s an average of 21.2 yards per play; essentially one game piece at a time. Richardson battled a hamstring injury in practice this week, but the suggestion is there.

Why not start Richardon instead of Emory Jones and see what happens against Crimson Tide? Jones is more experienced, but he has also thrown four interceptions in two games. Mullen hinted that the plan will be to initiate Jones and bring in Richardson, which has been the case in the walking victories against FAU and South Florida.

“There are some circumstances that might change that, but I want to say that everyone is planning to get in the game and say, ‘Hey, (Richardson) is going to play the third series,” Mullen said.

But you beat Alabama by going off script. That’s what makes Richardson such an intriguing player heading into Week 3. The last Florida quarterback to beat Alabama was Tim Tebow in the SEC championship game on December 6, 2008.

Alabama has lost just 16 games since then, and that includes just 11 regular-season games.

Quarterbacks who beat Alabama in regular season since 2009

Steven Garcia, South Carolina (October 9, 2010)
Jordan Jefferson, Jarrett Lee, LSU (November 6, 2010)
Cam Newton, Auburn (November 26, 2010)
Jordan Jefferson, Jarrett Lee, LSU (November 5, 2011)
Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M (November 10, 2012)
Nick Marshall, Auburn (November 30, 2013)
Bo Wallace, Ole Miss (October 4, 2014)
Chad Kelly, Ole Miss (September 19, 2015)
Jarrett Stidham, Auburn (November 25, 2017)
Joe Burrow, LSU (November 9, 2019)
Bo Nix, Auburn (November 30, 2019)

Everyone remembers Heisman Trophy-worthy performances by Cam Newton, Johnny Manziel and Joe Burrow. Former Auburn coach Gus Malzahn beat Saban with Nick Marshall, Jarrett Stidham and Bo Nix. Former Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze did the same with Bo Wallace and Chad Kelly. Former South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier did it with Steven Garcia, the outlier on this list.

The Jones-Richardson dynamic in Florida is different than former LSU coach Les Miles did twice with Jarrett Lee and Jordan Jefferson. Most of those quarterbacks presented problems for Alabama with their mobility: the uncanny ability to make the big play when the script was broken.

Can Mullen, who is 0-10 against Saban, find that combination with Jones and Richardson? Will you give Richardson more reps this week? It is a difficult decision given the inexperience.

Jones (63.3 completion percentage) and Richardson (54.5%) are still growing in their roles, and Alabama’s defense limited Miami’s D’Eriq King to 189 total yards and forced two turnovers on a 44-13 blouwt. September 3. Mullen will be asking those quarterbacks to match Bryce Young, who has taken the lead in the Heisman Trophy after consecutive brilliant performances.

Still, this is a tremendous opportunity for Florida to snap a seven-game losing streak against Crimson Tide. Kyle Trask threw for 408 yards and three TDs on that list, so a brilliant quarterback performance might still not be enough.

“It’s an opportunity for this team to see where we are at this point in the season,” Mullen said. “The outcome of this game is not going to define the season in any way.”

It will define who the Florida quarterback is for the rest of the year.

We suggest nothing less.

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