Anthony Richardson working on improving after sluggish start

There’s no question the Anthony Richardson we’ve all seen the last couple of weeks hasn’t met the expectations of Florida fans by week four of the 2022 football season.

The Gators haven’t had a single touchdown pass in the first three weeks of the season, which is the longest on-going span since the 2013 Florida football season. With Florida heading up to Knoxville this weekend, Richardson will need to make changes quickly if the Gators are to find success in the passing game.

Fortunately for Florida, the mistakes Richardson has made are correctable and can easily be improved on.

“It’s always different. Sometimes you think it’s terrible. It’s not up to your standards, but it’s not as bad as you may think it is,” Richardson said on re-watching film.

“Just simple things I messed up. Different things, people missing. So, it’s definitely kind of good just watching it and just getting a feel for it and trying to improve on those small details.”

There’s a lot that Richardson can build on, and his confidence is slowly growing over time.

“Coach Napier talked about me using my legs on third down, so I feel like I set that up a little bit coming off of week 2,” Richardson said. “I made some big throws to Shorter. I definitely want to improve on that a little bit.”

“But just talking to Coach Napier, watching the film, and seeing that definitely makes you feel a little good because you’re doing something right at least.”

With back-up quarterback Jack Miller still recovering from a thumb injury, Richardson has got to be smart when using his legs. Depth has been scarce at the quarterback position heading into the start of this season and the last thing this team needs is another quarterback going down.

“I definitely consider it because they tell me every week, I’ve got to be careful, can’t take big hits,” Richardson said on Miller’s injury limiting his run opportunities. “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, just helps me stay a little safer.”

Richardson’s legs and run game are the strength and power of his game. Although depth at the position isn’t anywhere where this staff wants it to be, Richardson understands that when given the opportunity to run and take off, he needs to take it.

“I don’t know. Honestly that’s a great question,” Richardson said on why he’s held himself back on the ground. “I don’t even know. I guess I started holding myself back from running, and that’s a part of the offense that helps us move the ball. So I guess I’ve just got to pick that up and bring that back.”

Richardson has shown signs of a slight limp during both the Kentucky and the USF games. This could also explain why Richardson has held himself back slightly.

“Dude stuck on my ankle, so that was hurting a little bit,” Richardson said on getting hit after sliding this past Saturday. But I think it’s better for me to slide instead of getting flipped in the air.”

Richardson is at the point where he knows he’s got to go back to playing his brand of football. He can’t let depth and injuries get in the way of running the football when the opportunity arises.

Working on sliding and avoiding hits will be key for Richardson to be able to do what he does best on the football field throughout the rest of the season.

The passing game is the biggest concern for this football team at the moment. While not having a touchdown pass got into Richardson’s head at first, it doesn’t seem to bother him much anymore. The sophomore quarterback knows the time is coming and isn’t worried at all.

“At first it was definitely getting to me because you’re like, bro, you’re a quarterback,” Richardson said. “How come you don’t have any passing touchdowns? You have four interceptions. I mean, I’m throwing the ball but just not getting in the end zone.”

“So it was affecting me a little bit, but now I’m just like, okay, it’s football. It’s going to come. I’ve got to let it come to me. I can’t try to force it. I’ve got to let the game be the game.”

Being a perfectionist is something Anthony Richardson is known for by the people closest to him. While that can have a positive impact in terms of growth, it can also have a negative impact on him mentally.

“Sometimes that’s my biggest downfall because in practice, if I miss a throw by six inches, I’m like, bro, that’s a bad throw, but it’s completed,” Richardson said. “So sometimes that is my downfall. Just trying to be too perfect sometimes definitely can mess me up, but I feel like it helps me grow as a quarterback.”

Richardson and his receivers have constantly been in the film room finding any way they can to help Richardson get them the football. Inconsistency in the passing game is the biggest concern for the offense right now.

“We’re going to start doing something new this week, watching film together and just trying to understand what can help us in different coverages and stuff like that. So we’re going to try a new philosophy this week and see how it goes.”

“Just a little bit of everything. Just looking at things we need to correct for the last game and looking at things to implement into this game and this game plan,” Richardson said.

Everyone has seen how explosive this offense can be when everyone executes and does his job. The Gators are doing everything they can to get back to their old ways.

“Our offense, we can definitely be explosive. Just watching the film, you can just see it,” Richardson said. “We’re one person away from having a good play, whether that’s me or a missed block or a crisp route. I feel like, if we have all 11 executing, we can be very explosive.”

With the help of his former high school coach and loved ones, Richardson is trying to get back to his old ways.

“I definitely talk to Coach Ced a lot, my high school coach. He just tells me I’ve got to be myself and stop worrying about too much,” Richardson said.

“I talked to him the other day, and before I could even tell him anything, he said he already knew what was wrong with me last game and he hit it right on the head. I thought, wow, that’s crazy how he can see it like that. So just having somebody who knows me and understands me, it definitely helps a lot.”

Football is a growing process, and these players are slowly starting to find themselves and their identity as a football team.

Anthony Richardson has all the tools to be successful in this offense and is doing everything he can to not just live up to the expectations of the fans, but live up to his own expectations.

This Saturday Richardson will have another big opportunity to silence his haters in Knoxville this weekend when Florida travels to go play a very talented Tennessee team.

Gentry Hawk
Gentry Hawk is a student at the University of Florida studying sports journalism. He is a writer and reporter for GatorCountry. You can find most of his work on Twitter @gentryhawkgc, or right here on Gator country.