Florida QB Jones taking what defense gives him, but looking for more deep shots

Zach Abolverdi
Gator Sports
Florida quarterback Emory Jones (5) runs through an opening in the Kentucky line during the second half Saturday in Lexington, Ky.

Emory Jones hasn't taken many deep shots this season, but that’s not by design.

Florida coach Dan Mullen revealed Monday that on the final drive of the half last Saturday, he tried to take a shot down the field twice. Kentucky dropped everyone back in coverage, so Jones checked it down both times.

However, Mullen said the offense went out there “looking for explosive plays” before deciding to run the clock out. 

“I mean, it’s not that we're not calling deep shots,” Jones said Tuesday. “Sometimes I have to work out the defense and if the defense is dropping all the way back, I can't just force myself to throw a deep ball just because everybody wants me to or because we haven’t done that a lot this season. I’m just doing everything that I’m supposed to do.”

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Last year, the Gators’ top-ranked passing offense led the country in long passing plays of 20-plus yards with 75. Only 12 of Jones’ 134 passing attempts this season have gone 20-plus yards, which is tied for 97th nationally. 

No one expected Florida to replicate Kyle Trask’s record-setting passing numbers with Jones, who ranks No. 2 nationally in rushing yards by a quarterback (438). Nonetheless, Jones acknowledged he has missed some deep-ball opportunities.  

“As an offense, we do what we need to do to move the ball down the field and score touchdowns,” Jones said. “As a quarterback, I learned to take what the defense is giving me. And it might have been a couple of times I could have took some shots or risked some things. But I've learned throughout the year, I don’t always need to force things when it's not there, or it’s not given to me.” 

Through five games, Jones has 871 passing yards with five touchdowns, six interceptions and a 68.9 completion percentage. He’s thrown for 200 yards in his last two games and attempted a career-high 31 passes at Kentucky. 

The Gators’ rushing attack, which ranks third nationally, is now the focal point of their offense, and that has been by design. 

“We have the weapons we have,” right guard Stewart Reese said. “I don't feel like we're under any stress of whether we’ll become one-dimensional in a game. I feel like if we need to throw it, we’ll throw it. If we need to run it, we'll run it. 

“It’s just a matter of what the defense that we're facing opens up in and what opportunities we’re presented with. So, that's really the biggest thing for us.” 

While UF hasn’t shown much of its downfield passing game this season, the secondary has seen plenty of it in practice. Defensive back Tre’Vez Johnson said Jones and his receiving corps have the capacity for explosive plays. 

“Yeah, they can do it all,” Johnson said. “I don’t see any problems with the offense or nothing they got going on. I know they’re going to get everything figured out and do what they do. And we’re going to focus on beating Vanderbilt this week.”


Who: Vanderbilt (2-3, 0-1 SEC) vs. No. 18 Florida (3-2, 1-2)

When: 12 p.m.

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

TV: SEC Network

Radio: 103.7-FM, AM-850

Tickets:Available at Gator Ticket Office.