Saturday’s season opener against the Utah Utes will not only be the first game of the Billy Napier era at the University of Florida, but it will also be the start of the Anthony Richardson era as well.
Fans clamored for the redshirt freshman to overtake Emory Jones as the team’s starter all year after getting a glimpse of what he could do against USF in the second week of last season. It took a coaching change and Jones transferring to Arizona State to get there, but Richardson is the unquestioned leader of the offense coming into 2022.
The only problem is that Richardson is relatively unproven in the SEC. He’s attempted just 66 passes over two seasons at Florida and has been wildly inconsistent. His touchdown to interception ratio sits just under 1.00 and he’s completed 59% of his career attempts.
While Richardson has proven to be a threat on the ground, opposing defenses can contain him rather easily if they know he’s hit or miss in the air. That’s why progressing over the offseason was so crucial; it helps him be a true dual threat instead of a one-and-a-half-tool player. Fortunately for Gators fans, Napier’s report on his quarterback was mostly positive.
“I’m very pleased with Anthony’s attitude and approach,” Napier said at his Monday presser. “I think he’s really worked hard to have a better comprehension of the system, a lot of reps. If you think about the off-season program, you think about spring practice, OTAs, training camp, and now we get to zero the focus on a specific plan.”
Napier commended Richardson for diving headfirst into the new way of life at Florida. What Napier asks of his quarterbacks isn’t a walk in the park, but Richardson seems up to the task.
“It’s good to see him buying into the routine in terms of the way we approach it with the quarterback,” he said. “You know, he’s got a punch list of things he needs to do each day, starting yesterday, and it requires some self-discipline. It’s not easy.”
“But I think he loves the game, and I think he’s bought into this. The preparation ultimately is going to give you the confidence so you can go play fast and make good decisions and put the team in a position to win.”
There’s little room for failure from Richardson to start the season. Backup Jack Miller III is currently recovering from a procedure he had done on his thumb that should keep him out of action for the first few weeks of the season.
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