Gators' Jones focused on fixing details, admits he wasn't comfortable in first start

Graham Hall
Special to The Sun
Gators quarterback Emory Jones throws Saturday against Florida Atlantic at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

By the time redshirt junior quarterback Emory Jones fielded post-game questions from the media via Zoom, it was after midnight, and Jones was undoubtedly gassed from UF’s 35-14 win over Florida Atlantic. 

But Jones had little intention of rushing home to rest. 

His first regular season start under center had resulted in a double-digit victory, though Jones wasn’t in a celebratory mood. 

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He was already focused on correcting his mistakes, and there was little time to waste. 

“I feel like it was just, I mean sloppy, rusty. We just gotta go back in the lab, get better, try to get better every week,” Jones admitted, before repeating his intentions to correct the issues posthaste. “I don’t really feel that good about (the win) honestly. I definitely have to play better, and just overall we want to play better. We've just got to get back in the lab and try to get better every week.”

So an undoubtedly languished Jones did just that: in the wee hours of what was now Sunday morning, he began to digest and process the game film from hours earlier. 

Nearly 36 hours later, Jones has a better understanding of the areas in which he needs to improve. His 17-of-27 passing line and trio of turnovers didn’t cost Florida the contest with the Owls, but there’s little doubt a similar performance in the future could significantly hinder the Gators. 

Though it’s worth keeping in mind it was only Jones’ debut as the regular-season starter. 

Before he can improve, he must first identify where he went wrong. 

“Just paying attention to little details. I mean, it was some things that I didn't do well, just detail-wise, and that takes you a long way especially in games and in playing quarterback,” Jones said. “I had a lot of, just, missed opportunities that I could have did, and my stats could go way better. Just the whole performance could have been way better.”

It didn’t help Jones’ case that redshirt freshman Anthony Richardson dazzled in a relief role Saturday, leading the team in rushing with 160 yards while completing his first three passing attempts in impressive fashion. 

With the game already out of reach, there wasn’t much pressure on Richardson to come in and steer the Gators to victory, despite the faults, Jones had already done that, albeit a bit uncomfortably. 

“Some of the decisions I made, I was doing some things that I don’t usually do," Jones said. “Just making different types of throws that I don’t usually do.”

Some call them butterflies, others prefer the terms nerves or eagerness. 

Jones simply felt out of his comfort zone, the one he’s become accustomed to in Florida’s practices. 

His cool, calm and collected demeanor didn’t accompany him Saturday to Steve Spurrier-Florida Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. 

Jones admits he wasn't comfortable

“I wasn't really that nervous coming in. It was just more of being comfortable out there. I mean, after watching it, I had a lot of opportunities to make a lot of plays," Jones said. “All I can do is just grow from it and just learn from it. Just watching, I didn’t look very comfortable to myself, and I mean I’m very comfortable every day in practice. I’ve been doing this for a couple years, so just watching it I didn’t feel like I looked really comfortable, like it was my first start.”

After sitting for four years and waiting his turn, Jones is thankful to have another shot this coming Saturday, and it’s clear he doesn’t take it for granted. 

He’s said all the right things a coach wants to hear from a player coming off a subpar performance, although it’s one thing to say it and another entirely to put the plan into action. 

“I’m glad I get the opportunity to actually just get a chance to learn from all that, and I just know I gotta do better than that and just come back and try to do better next week,” Jones said. “It's easy to fix, it’s just little things. Just the attention to details, and I’m locked into that this week.”

Up next

Who: Florida (1-0) vs. South Florida (0-1)

When: 1 p.m. Saturday

Where: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa


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