The Florida Gators narrowly escaped with a victory over USF on Saturday night. The Swamp welcomed 88,496 fans into Ben Hill Griffin Stadium last night, many of them leaving in disappointment before the game ended.
Gator Country provides you with the major takeaways from the Gators’ 31-28 win over USF.
WHAT’S WRONG WITH ANTHONY RICHARDSON
My takeaway from the game is that I don’t know what’s wrong with Richardson. I wish I had answers, but I don’t. He’s not the same quarterback he was last year against USF or LSU. Two games in a row Richardson has hit a brick wall in the 2nd half. Richardson was 7-9 passing in the first half against USF. I don’t think he was asked to do much, but he didn’t play poorly. I’m not sure what is said in the locker room at halftime, but it’s not working.
It’s clear to me there’s something going on with Richardson. He’s never been an accurate passer, but he’s also never played in fear. I think that’s the best way I can describe his performance these last two weeks, he’s fearful.
Richardson isn’t displaying any confidence in his ability, especially to run the football.
Richardson’s receivers don’t do him many favors, but that’s never stopped Richardson before. The Gators will need to get Richardson going or this season will get really ugly. This team will go as far as Richardson takes them, it’s that simple.
GATORS’ OFFENSIVE LINE IS STILL GOOD
The absence of Michael Tarquin didn’t stop the Gators Saturday night. Austin Barber played really well in his spot, that’s a great sign looking forward. Gators ran 30 times for 217 yards, averaging 7.2 yards per carry. Nay’Quan Wright, Montrell Johnson, and Trevor Etienne all found the end zone.
The Bulls knew the Gators were going to run, and they couldn’t stop it. A dominant first three weeks for the Gators’ OL. Without the veteran OL, the Gators are likely sitting at 0-3.
Gators’ OL has also been efficient in pass protection, Richardson just hasn’t taken advantage of it.
PLAY THE YOUNGER RECEIVERS
It’s fairly clear that the Gators don’t have many difference makers at the receiver position. The Henderson screen and sweep play has gone for 23 yards on 10 attempts. That’s an average of 2.3 yards per play. This play must be working in practice, but at some point, you’d think this staff would have seen enough from this play. I don’t hate the play call, but it needs to be run with a different set of receivers. Ja’Markis Weston, Ricky Pearsall, and Daejon Reynolds would all be better options for that play call. Henderson just isn’t explosive or quick off the line of scrimmage. Justin Shorter has also not been able to hold his block long enough for the play to work, so it’s not entirely Henderson’s fault either.
I want to see the Gators start to rotate the younger receivers in regularly. I’ve not seen enough from Shorter and Henderson this season to argue that they should be playing every down.
GATORS MISS VENTRELL MILLER
The Bulls ran for 286 yards against the Gators. You are not going to win a lot of football games when you are nearly giving up 300 yards on the ground. The Gators best run stopper, Ventrell Miller, was out with an injury last night and the Gators missed him.
This was the worst performance from the Gators’ front seven on the season. There was very little push from the defensive line and the linebackers failed to fill their gaps properly. The Gators couldn’t get the pressure that they did a week ago.
The Gators have done a nice job of defending the pass this season, but they’ve been inconsistent with stopping the run. I want to see Shemar James play a larger role moving forward.
The Gators have a lot to work on moving forward. If the Gators can’t get Richardson and the defense to play with more consistency, it’s going to be a long season for the Florida Gators.