The Tennessee Vols are going to have their work cut out for themselves on Saturday against Florida Gators quarterback Anthony Richardson.
Richardson is a dynamic playmaker who showed in the Gators’ season-opening win against Utah that he has the skills to take over a game.
The redshirt sophomore quarterback rushed for 106 yards on 11 carries against Utah.
Richardson, however, has only rushed for 28 yards in Florida’s two subsequent games. That’s because he’s banged up a bit. And Gators’ backup quarterback Jack Miller is still recovering from a thumb surgery he underwent before the start of the season.
As a result, Florida’s coaches have told Richardson to try to avoid taking big hits.
That means instead of looking to run first, Richardson is trying to be more of a pocket passer.
And that’s not when he’s at his best.
Richardson looked uncomfortable in the pocket at times against South Florida. On one play, South Florida rushed four, never got in Richardson’s face, and still forced an ill-advised throw off his back foot. That throw resulted in an interception.
If Tennessee can pressure Richardson, it’s gonna be a long night for the Gators. He didn’t have pressure in his face here and still looked very uncomfortable. USF forced an ill-advised throw off the back foot and it resulted in a pick. pic.twitter.com/1akDDs7Pcy— zach ragan (@zachTNT) September 21, 2022
It’s clear from that clip that Richardson isn’t comfortable being a pocket passer.
If the Vols can generate pressure with just their front four, allowing the secondary to take away (as best it can) anything in the passing game, then Tennessee should be able to force some turnovers.
They’d still be smart to spy Richardson — it’s not like he’s going to cease running the ball. But he likely won’t run the ball as he did against Utah. Florida doesn’t want to risk losing him for the rest of the season.
Tennessee has to go out and execute on Saturday to win this game. But Vols fans should feel good about the way UT matches up with the Gators. Tennessee should leave Neyland with a win on Saturday if they stay focused and don’t let their emotions get the best of them.
Featured image via USA TODAY Sports