It may sound obvious, but I think it bears repeating: Being a starting quarterback is much harder than being a package player.
Emory Jones found this out firsthand last Saturday. In previous seasons, Jones probably went into every game knowing exactly what plays would be called while he was in — and maybe even how the defense would line up. Packages like the ones he helmed can be highly specialized, and often involve fewer reads.
In his freshman year, for example, Jones was used mainly as a run threat, but came in against Georgia to uncork a deep shot to Van Jefferson — likely without a read involved. To that point, Emory had only been used in the run game, after all, so Florida very probably called a shot to break tendency; Jones’s responsibility, in turn, wasn’t to make a complex full-field read, just to take a shot by making a throw.
All that has changed for Jones. He now has full control of the reins of the offense. He’s no longer a change-of-pace player coming in to provide a spark. And if being a package player is about splashes, being the starter is about consistency.
Emory did a good job early taking what the defense gave him, but seemed to press a little after Anthony Richardson entered at the start of the third drive for his pre-determined cameo. Meanwhile, Richardson came in and provided those splash plays. Below, I take a closer look at the play of both quarterbacks, what they did well, and what they will be looking to improve on against USF.
Beyond the quarterback position, the biggest question for the Florida offense was the offensive line group. I took a closer look at some positives from that group in the run game. It wasn’t perfect, but there was some nice execution on Saturday.
I also take a look at the Florida defense. Early on, it seemed to me that the main concern for that group was not allowing explosive plays. When you play a team with lesser talent, you generally want to make them earn it, instead of being too aggressive and letting them get a big play due to some type of miscue.
This seemed to work for the most part, as Florida did not allow an explosive play in the first half. However, their focus on limiting the big play didn’t mean that the Gators played passive. They started to tighten up the coverage as the game went on and did some great things to confuse the Florida Atlantic pass protections.
All that and more is discussed in this week’s film review.