Florida’s lack of QB depth limiting Anthony Richardson’s impact on the ground

·3 min read

After tearing it up both in the air on the ground in Week 1 against Utah, Florida quarterback Anthony Richardsonhas struggled to get the run game going over the last two weeks.

His 13 carries in those two games has netted just 28 yards, which is a far cry from the 106 yards and three scores he totaled on 11 carries against the Utes. What’s changed? It’s hard for the man himself to even say.

“I don’t even know,” Richardson said during Monday’s media availability. “I guess I just like hold myself back from running and that’s a part of the offense. It helps us move the ball, so I guess I’ve got to pick that up and bring that back.”

Head coach Billy Napier offered some more insight, noting that Richardson isn’t being asked to do anything too physical right now with backup Jack Miller III still rehabbing from his August thumb surgery. There was hope that the Gators would get Miller back by Week 3 initially, but he still seems to be a few weeks away from a return at best.

“I think our situation at quarterback has something to do with that if that makes sense, but I also believe the guy’s made some plays with his legs,” Napier said. “The guy made two third-down conversions in the game the other day where it’s 7-10 and third and long, extra long. He goes through his progressions and then breaks the pocket and makes a play.

“I think each game and each week is a little bit different relative to the concepts that are called, how the teams are defending you. I think teams are very aware that this guy can beat them with his feet, so I think you maybe get a different structure as a result of that. We do our best to use his skill set and I think we’ll continue to grow in that area.”

Richardson did admit that defenses are prioritizing him differently after getting fresh tape on the team from Week 1. They aren’t biting on the play-action nearly as often and leave a lineman to spy the quarterback in case of that late run.

He’s also aware that his health is priority No. 1 when he’s on the field. He slid for the first ever in-game against Utah and says it’s something he’s still working on getting used to.

“I definitely consider it because they tell me every week that I’ve got to be careful,” Richardson said. “I can’t take big hits, I can’t be Superman out there. I try not to be too physical, I try to get down. I started sliding this year, so I definitely think about it. I don’t think it takes me out of my game. It just helps me stay a little safer.”

Richardson still needs to be safe once Miller returns, but it sounds like getting his backup back will do something for him mentally. Although he hasn’t dealt with any official injuries, Richardson took a hit to the knee he had surgery on in the first quarter of the Kentucky game. He hasn’t looked right since, and knowing he can take a play off after a hit like that might do him some good.

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