GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson flashed his potential as a backup for the Gators last season. On Saturday, he showed exactly what he could do as a starter.
Richardson tallied 274 total yards and three touchdowns, creating the biggest season opener in school history in front of a raucous 90,799 crowd as Florida beat No. 7 Utah State 29-26. became an audience. He did everything the Gators needed in one highlight play after another – from his spectacular 2-point conversion that left multiple defenders on the grass, to a huge 4-and-2 conversion, He ran up to the game-winning two-yard touchdown. 1:25 remaining.
Richardson finished with a career-high three rushing touchdowns on Saturday after entering the game with three career touchdowns. This performance helped Billy Napier his coach to his first victory in Florida, but delivered a heartbreaking loss to the Utes and kicked off a season that began as a college football his playoff sleeper. did.
“My wife could call that guy and play at quarterback,” Napier said of Richardson. “His legs make a difference. We saw it tonight. A force-down play, i.e. a two-point conversion, he did the exact same thing in practice one day.I’m talking about the exact scenario.
“I think you understand here that this guy is a pretty special player.”
Richardson said he had some pre-game anxiety, but it worked out after the first few series. With the game looming and Florida trailing him 26-22, the clock was down and Richardson said Napier told him to go and decide the winner of the game.
“My heart kind of froze,” Richardson said. “I had never heard that word before, especially in a situation with such a large crowd. My coaches trust me to play, and I’m glad they trusted me.”
Still, Utah got the ball back with 1:25 left in the game and drove all the way to the Florida 6-yard line. On the second goal, Amari his Barney intercepted Cameron his rising in the end his zone to seal the win. The interceptions ruined a solid performance from Rising, who rushed for 91 yards, going 22/32 for 216 yards and a touchdown.
“It wasn’t Cam’s best throw,” said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham. “I’m sure he wants it back.”
Utah missed several chances in the red zone, ultimately giving Utah the win. Twice they got inside his 6-yard line and scored zero points. Meanwhile, Florida turned Red’s move into his zone into a touchdown.
At times, the Utah offense pushed Florida across the field, including those two red zone drives. Utah had 230 rushing yards and averaged 5.9 yards per carry. But Florida found a way to make plays when counted, and its offensive line also found a way to push Utah around. The Gators rushed for 283 yards and four touchdowns, averaging 7.3 yards per carry.
A lot of that is thanks to Richardson, who was 106 yards on the ground. His ability to run and generate plays makes him a dynamic player.
But perhaps more important than what Richardson did was what Florida showed in the game.
A year ago, Florida lost 6 of their final 9 games after starting the season 13th in the preseason rankings. Coach Dan Mullen was fired before the season ended. Because the rapid decline seemed to happen so quickly that many questioned the program’s direction.
Napier comes in and emphasizes a disciplined approach, thanks to a running back room that includes Richardson, Montrell Johnson Jr., who moved to Louisiana, and true freshman Trevor Etienne, brother of the Jacksonville Jaguars. highlighted an offensive approach that must rely on runs. Back Travis Etienne.
Napier said that when he got the job, one of his friends who had worked in Florida before, one of his friends who had previously worked in Florida, said that the program was the most competitive he had ever been. said he told him there was a player with He believes it was competitive that Florida pulled off the upset.
“There’s a fight in this group,” Napier said. “They have a bit of a different edge about them. Execution wasn’t always what we wanted. We have a lot of work to do. We were lucky to overcome a lot of our mistakes tonight.” As the team showed, they continued to react and play until the end.
“We have work to do. We won the game. It’s a special moment. Enjoy it and come back tomorrow to prepare for the SEC game.”