GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) – Florida quarterback Emory Jones has relentlessly supported substitute Anthony Richardson all season. He enthusiastically coached Richardson from the sideline. He enthusiastically applauded Richardson after every big play. He openly shot for Richardson’s return with a strained right hamstring.
Now, however, it’s time for Jones to bask in the spotlight.
Jones recorded four career-high touchdown passes which potentially calmed calls for Richardson to play more, and the Florida No.20 routed the sad Vanderbilt 42-0 on Saturday.
“I looked at the scoreboard once and they said I threw four, and I thought it was wrong,” Jones said. “I really didn’t remember doing it. All the guys around me, they were definitely the biggest part of it. They make it all happen.
It was a heartwarming victory for the Gators on their return from a heart-wrenching loss to Kentucky that essentially knocked out coach Dan Mullen’s side in the Eastern Division of the Southeastern Conference.
Florida (4-2, 2-2 SEC) have won their eighth straight game in the series and their 30th in the last 31 games. The Commodores (2-4, 0-2) lost their 15th consecutive league game.
Jones was the star of it. He completed 14 of 22 passes for 273 yards, with touchdown passes to Ja’Quavion Fraziars, Trent Whittemore, Dameon Pierce and Jacob Copeland. Pierce also scored twice more on short runs.
Richardson played sparingly for the second week in a row. His first pass was intercepted. He returned the following series but ended up giving way to Jones until he returned to the field for cleanup in the fourth quarter.
“I think all quarterbacks have a learning curve,” Mullen said. “That’s why there is development. I think Anthony is working hard, has a great approach to what he does, a great approach to preparing for training.
“I see him improving. Which is good we are throwing him and he has opportunities during the game to show what he can do, and he has to keep improving.”
Vanderbilt had several opportunities to make the game more competitive, but Alabama transfer Joseph Bulovas missed three field goals. He was wandering at 39, 41 and 33 meters. The Commodores also canceled a touchdown when Chris Pierce failed to hold the ball in a catch on the fourth down when he touched down in the second quarter.
“We had a great day moving the ball,” said Vandy wide receiver Cam Johnson. “At the end of the day, it was about shooting yourself in the foot.”
Take it away
Vanderbilt: First-year head coach Chris Lea has a rebuilding project on his hands, but he can surely get a lot of positives out of this loss. The Commodores ran 80 games and were 8 of 20 on the third down.
“If you can score goals and score touchdowns when you’re on their end of the field, all of a sudden the energy changes,” Lea said.
Florida: Mullen was not happy with his team’s performance in the first half. The Gators were leading 21-0, but it could have been 21-13. He tore the players and halftime apart and finally pitched them with a false punt on the fourth play of the third quarter.
Florida are the only two-losing team in the Associated Press’s college football poll. The Gators are unlikely to progress much, if at all, after a lackluster home win over an outclassed team.
The Gators have played their third straight game without preseason cornerback Kaiir Elam, who is recovering from a sprained right knee. The unit, which is also without starter Jaydon Hill (knee), got even thinner in the first quarter on Saturday when Tre’Vez Johnson was ejected for targeting.
THE HONORED OLYMPIANS
Eight Olympians and former Florida stars had whistles hanging from their necks in lieu of medals on Saturday. Swimmers Caeleb Dressel, Bobby Finke, Natalie Hinds and Kieran Smith, hurdler Grant Holloway, distance runner Taylor Manson, softball player Aubree Munro and baseball player Mark Kolozsvary were honored by “Mr. -Two Bits cheerleaders before the game.
The eight combined to win 13 medals – seven gold, three silver, three bronze – in Tokyo. Dressel led the way with five gold medals.
TEMPLE OF FAMERS
Tim Tebow and Billy Donovan are finally in the Florida Hall of Fame. Tebow, the 2007 Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback, and Donovan, the most accomplished male basketball coach in school history, were inducted into the Class of 2020 Friday night. was delayed for a year due to COVID-19.
Vanderbilt plays in South Carolina next Saturday. The Commodores have lost 12 straight games in the series.
Florida plays LSU next Saturday. The Gators have lost four of five at Baton Rouge.
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