For the second season in a row, the Florida Gators have not hosted a Spring Game. But, that doesn’t mean the Florida Football team hasn’t been putting in the work on the gridiron. The Gators wrapped up their spring season on Saturday in a closed scrimmage. Saturday’s scrimmage marked the third and final contest. According to Head Coach Dan Mullen, big strides were made in the condensed spring session. After missing the 2020 spring season, it was a priority for the program to get spring ball underway quickly and consistently.
After his third season in the Orange and Blue, junior Emory Jones is finally in the driver’s seat. In an admittedly trying journey, the quarterback finally has been given the keys to the offense after being in Gainesville since January of 2018. Jones is leaving the spring season with the well-deserved starting quarterback title. Not far behind is Gainesville native Anthony Richardson who held his own in his first spring season with the Gators.
“I mean you would have to say yes, but I mean I’ll give you an honest answer… so I would say yes,” Mullen said when asked if Jones had secured the starting role.
However, amidst the honesty from Mullen, hesitancy lies somewhere in the statement due to injuries. Former quarterback Felipe Franks’ gruesome injury at Kentucky is a prime example of Mullen’s philosophy of having two quarterbacks prepared.
“You have to prepare two quarterbacks ready to go, How are we getting two starters ready and then we are going to be young after,” he said. “We need two starters, then I will figure out the backup situation beyond that.”
While in spring camp, the quarterbacks focused on finding balance in the pocket and accuracy of passes. Mullen praised Jones for his comfortability and knowledge of the offense. Now, it is about being tuned in to being absolute on all of the details about the read of the play and finishing the down.
Strengths of the Team:
Outside of the quarterback position, Mullen was quick to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the team. By position group, the linebackers and running backs proclaim the biggest area of strength for the Gators. Both position groups bring back veteran players and leaders on both sides of the ball. The running back room returns both Dameon Pierce and Malik Davis back for another year while the defense returns playmaker and middle linebacker Ventrell Miller. In addition to leadership, both areas have depth, including a five-player rotation at running back.
Depth extends across the entire roster for the Gators too.
“We have depth on the team, may not have the household name like Kyle Pitts on the team but have the opportunity to have a lot of depth and experience on the team,” Mullen said, ” The key will be to play with attention to detail, you never know when your number will be called.”
However, question marks still are in place on other groups, especially across the offensive line. With many experienced guys leaving the team, new leadership will have to come together for the unit.
“I’m sort of comfortable with the offensive line,” he said. “We want to identify who the first five are then the first three, and we are still getting there.”
Other areas of uncertainty include the receiving core who are losing key members such as Kyle Pitts, Trevon Grimes and Kadarius Toney to the NFL draft.
Up next, it will be up to the players to come together to continue to keep the ball in motion from Spring camp. Four months lie in between the coaching staff and their ability to take back over in preparation for Fall Camp in August. Until then, the players have the freedom to perfect connections on the field, nail down timings of play and continue to get better.