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Florida Gators football: Anthony Richardson expected to be 'ready to go' vs. Tennessee Vols

Zach Abolverdi
Gator Sports
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Anthony Richardson is on track to be ready for Saturday’s game against Tennessee, according to Florida coach Dan Mullen. 

Mullen provided an update on his backup quarterback Wednesday on the SEC coaches teleconference. Richardson injured his hamstring in the USF game and missed last week’s matchup against No. 1 Alabama. 

“He’s looking good,” Mullen said of Richardson. “We haven’t really opened him up a whole lot. It is a little bit similar to last week. We’re going to do a MRI and see where he’s at and do a full test on Friday to give him the maximum time to get to 100 percent.”

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Richardson participated in each practice session prior to Florida’s contest with the Crimson Tide, but Mullen said he wasn’t 100 percent and could have made a “one to two-week injury turn into a six-week injury.” 

Mullen added that Richardson was ahead of schedule in his recovery. 

“We’ve done more at practice with him this week than we did last week, even opening him up some, but we haven’t gotten him on a full sprint yet,” Mullen said. “I would think he’ll be ready to go on Saturday.”

With Richardson out against the Tide, starter Emory Jones had a confidence-building performance in his first SEC start and rallied the Gators from a 21-3 first-quarter deficit with three consecutive touchdown drives in the second half, including a 99-yarder. 

Richardson (275 yards) and Jones (247) have spearheaded Florida’s rushing offense, which ranks No. 2 nationally. Tennessee is preparing for both quarterbacks and their dual-threat ability, particularly on option plays, Vols first-year coach Josh Heupel said Wednesday. 

“I think that’s always been part of what they’ve done offensively (under Mullen), dating way back to his previous stop at Florida (as offensive coordinator) when we played them,” said Heupel, who was the quarterbacks coach at Oklahoma for the 2008 national championship game against the Gators. “Last year they obviously had great skill players and a quarterback that was extremely efficient. Got big yards in the pass game. 

“I think the option portion of what they do has been a mainstay of what they’ve done offensively, with all of the quarterbacks that they’ve had. You’ve got to play disciplined and you’ve got to play your keys and be in the right spot.”

Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson throws before the start of last Saturday's game against Alabama at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Richardson sat out the game with his injured hamstring, but may be a go this Saturday vs. the Vols.

Tennessee has also played two quarterbacks this season, with Joe Milton III starting the first two games before suffering a leg injury Sept. 11 in a loss to Pittsburgh.

Virginia Tech transfer Hendon Hooker started in place of Milton last Saturday, accounting for 263 yards (199 passing) and four total touchdowns (three passing) in a 56-0 shutout over Tennessee Tech. 

Heupel offered no update Wednesday on the status of Milton and has yet to name a starter for this weekend. 

“There are positives in all of those guys and what they’ve done. Decision-making at times, being really accurate with the football, decisive. I think first and foremost, we have to take better care of the football at that position. That’s where our turnovers have happened on the offensive side of the ball,” Heupel said of Hooker and Milton, who’ve combined for five lost fumbles and an interception. 

“There are plays in the passing game that we’re capable of making from that position, too. That is the quarterback. It’s also the wideouts, it’s also the protection, too. All those things have to come together. You’re going to have to hit those plays when you have a chance. In this ballgame they’re tough to come by.”

Huepel added that the Gators impressed him with “their fight” and “competitive composure” to overcome the early deficit against Alabama.

Mullen shared his thoughts on what he’s seen from Tennessee’s signal callers. 

“I think you watch them, there’s similarities between the two guys that play. They both have experience now and have played in games. Both have strong arms,” Mullen said of Hooker and Milton. “I know they love to push the ball vertically down the field. They are good runners when they have the quarterback run calls or the zone-read calls when they pull it. 

“But the thing that makes them dangerous is their ability to extend plays. When the play breaks down a little bit, their ability to go create something special beyond that and make something happen out there on the field. The explosiveness they’ve been able to do getting outside the offense and creating on their own.”

Saturday

Who: Tennessee (2-1) vs. No. 11 Florida (2-1, 0-1 SEC)

When: 7 p.m.

Where: Steve Spurrier-Florida Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium

TV: ESPN

Radio: AM-850, 103.7-FM

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