Updated notebook: Florida QB Richardson '100 percent ready to go' for Kentucky

Zach Abolverdi
Gator Sports

Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson is set to return to action Saturday at Kentucky after missing the past two games with a hamstring injury.

Richardson has the green light to play after practicing this week without any setbacks, according to UF coach Dan Mullen. 

“He’s ready to go, 100 percent ready to go,” Mullen said Wednesday on the SEC coaches teleconference. “We’re excited to have him back and ready to go play. He’s a dynamic player.”

Mullen added that cornerback Kaiir Elam (knee sprain) is on track to play against Kentucky. 

Gators notebook: Elam 'probable' to return for Saturday's road game

A look back:Anthony Richardson scored an 80-yard touchdown -- and then grabbed his leg. Is he OK?

Richardson scored three touchdowns of 70-plus yards in the first two games of the season. He rushed a 73-yard touchdown in the opener against FAU, and the following week he had a 75-yard TD pass and an 80-yard TD run at USF. 

With 115 yards rushing and 152 yards passing (3-for-3) against the Bulls, Richardson became the first FBS player in the last 25 seasons to rush for 100-plus yards, pass for 150-plus yards and complete every pass attempt in a game.

He is expected to resume his two-quarterback rotation with starter Emory Jones, who has stepped up in Richardson’s absence. Jones earned SEC Offensive Co-Player of the Week for his career-best performance against Tennessee.

“I’m definitely excited to get Anthony back,” Jones said Monday. “Last week he was mad he didn’t get in because he thought he was going to play. I told him we need him 100 percent when he comes back.

“He’ll come in and help our offense. He’ll switch things up for the defenses and make them have to defend us in a lot of different ways. I’m all for it. I’m here for it. I’m excited to have that guy back.”

Stoops preparing for both QBs

In his last two games against Florida, Kentucky coach Mark Stoops has faced a pair of UF quarterbacks both times. 

In 2019, starter Feleipe Franks suffered a season-ending ankle injury in the third quarter and Kyle Trask came off the bench to lead the Gators to a 29-21 come-from-behind victory with 19 unanswered points.

“We didn’t know much about Trask until Feleipe got hurt,” Stoops said on Wednesday’s teleconference. “Very unfortunate for Feleipe, but we were at that point in time in pretty good shape in the game and playing exceptionally well. And Trask came in, and the rest is history.”

Trask, who went on to become a record-setting Heisman Trophy finalist, threw for 256 yards and threw touchdowns in last year’s 34-10 win over UK. Jones also played in the game, completing all four of his pass attempts for 46 yards and rushing twice for eight yards. 

The Wildcats will have to be ready for Jones and Richardson on Saturday. 

“It’s no different this year with Florida’s offense,” Stoops said. “Emory is fantastic and can beat you with his arm and his legs. He looks more comfortable with every rep. And then you look at Anthony Richardson and again, you see unbelievably talented arm strength but you see a very big physical guy that can run around you or through you. So they have two quarterbacks to go to again this year.”

Mullen on Franks, former QBs in NFL

Mullen also discussed Franks during his appearance on the SEC teleconference Wednesday. 

Florida’s fourth-year coach was asked about his former starting quarterback, now a rookie in Atlanta, trying out a new position on offense. The Falcons played Franks at tight end for two snaps last Sunday against the New York Giants. 

After the game, Atlanta coach Arthur Smith said Franks is “a hell of an athlete” who may be able to contribute at that spot. 

“To me I think he’s a big athletic guy,” Mullen said of the 6-foot-6, 234-pound Franks, who played his final collegiate season at Arkansas. “If you get to that next level, whatever you can do to be on that roster you need to do. I don’t care if you gotta be the long snapper. You better learn how to long snap, cover kickoffs, whatever it takes to find a way to make the team.

“Feleipe did a great job here as a Gator, graduated from here, and you love to see your guys go out there and have success.”

Franks is one of three Mullen quarterbacks on NFL rosters, along with Trask (Buccaneers) and Dak Prescott (Cowboys). Mullen watched Dallas defeat the Philadelphia Eagles this week on Monday Night Football, which involved two more of his former signal callers. 

“I turn on Monday Night Football and the starting quarterback for the Cowboys you got to coach and the quarterback coach for the Eagles I coached and the guy doing the pregame broadcast, Alex Smith, I got to coach. Anytime you see that, the guys being able to have great success in their football careers, I mean it’s great,” Mullen said. “You had Kyle and Feleipe here and both of them are on NFL rosters. I think that’s fantastic. You’re really proud of all of your guys and you’re really happy any time they get the opportunity to go live their dreams.”