We are now just a few days from Emory Jones’ first true road test as a starting quarterback. And though the concept is fairly obvious to some, it’s not to others, so it’s worth diving into in more depth: he deserves respect for how far he’s come from the beginning of the season.
Why? Well, I’ll tell you why.
For Emory Jones, leading up to the Tennessee game, there had been major uncertainty surrounding his performance as the Florida Gators’ starting quarterback. And for good reason – Coming into last weeks’ game, Emory’s stats were abysmal, scoring just 2 touchdowns through the air, alongside 5 interceptions.
Compare that to backup Anthony Richardson, he had 2 passing touchdowns and zero interceptions. Both quarterbacks have been effective in running the ball, but Emory definitely looked to be lacking in effectively leading a passing offense. In fact, coming into the last two games (Alabama, Tennessee) my player to watch in both was Anthony Richardson.
Not only did I feel that his spark would be necessary to win the game against Alabama, but I thought AR would have to play for the Gators to have any explosive plays in the passing game. And to the dismay of many members of the fanbase, it was confirmed by Dan Mullen that Anthony was only an emergency backup for the last two games. This made making Anthony Richardson my player to watch… um, a massive hot take.
By the end of the Tennessee game, Emory Jones was 21 completions for 27 attempts, accumulated 209 yards through the air, and my favorite stat of the night – two touchdowns, no interceptions. That’s right! Zero interceptions! – A remarkable improvement from the previous two games. Not only did this signify improvement, but it also showed me that Emory could make throws on SEC defenses and not give away the ball. On top of that, he had a phenomenal night on the ground, running for 144 yards on 15 attempts. That’s 9.6 yards per attempt on average.
So to cap that all off, Emory Jones had a great night against Tennessee and he showed that he can play quarterback at the University of Florida with the best of them. In fact, the last Gator quarterback to throw two touchdowns, and run for more than 140 yards in a game was Tim Tebow.
Now, I’m not saying he’s expected to be the caliber of Tim Tebow. #15 is the GOAT for a reason. That’s not even a fair debate.
However, what I am expecting is a quarterback that continues to win plays and win football games. For all those that want Anthony Richardson to come in and make plays – He will. He will definitely have a role this year, and he will be absolutely necessary to win a championship.
But as Neil said at the beginning of the season, it’s Emory Jones’ turn. His time. And his team. I’m going to go on the record and say that Emory Jones is going to be the reason we win a lot of football games this year. And it starts this Saturday at Kentucky.