Whitley At The Half: A slop-fest at QB has things tied

David Whitley
Gator Sports
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Gainesville Sun sports columnist David Whitley provides first-half analysis of Saturday's Florida vs. Florida State game at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium:

There are roughly 1.5 million males between the age of 17 and 22 in Florida. Out of all that humanity, you’d think the two biggest football schools in the state could find one really good quarterback.

I don’t want to overreact to the QB play in the first half, but sheesh. Let’s just say nobody is having flashbacks of Danny Wuerffel or Charlie Ward flashbacks.

In one sequence, FSU’s McKenzie Milton threw a woeful interception, only to have Emory Jones throw a worse one on the next play.

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FSU’s problems are mainly due to starter Jordan Travis going on with a shoulder injury. Milton came in and on the first play he let the snap go through his hands for a 16-yard loss. After overthrowing a pass that was intercepted by Rashad Torrence, coach Mike Norvell pulled Milton for third-teamer Tate Rodemaker.

Florida State Seminoles quarterback Jordan Travis (13) celebrates his first half touchdown to tie the game 7-7. The Florida Gators hosted the Florida State Seminoles Saturday November 27, 2021 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida. [Doug Engle/Ocala Star-Banner]2021

As for the Gators, Jones is being Jones. Good stretches interrupted by head-scratching mistakes. His three interceptions have helped FSU stick around.

It wasn't clear Jones would even play, since he rolled an ankle in practice this week. He started, but Anthony Richardson went in on a third-down play. He limped off with an apparent ankle injury and didn't return, so who knows what might happen if Jones gets hurt.

Rodemaker’s a redshirt freshman who hasn’t thrown a pass all season. But he looked pretty good directing a 68-yard drive in the second quarter that tied the game 7-7.

UF drove to FSU’s 9-yard-line in the final minute, but Jones was picked off the end zone. Travis came back in and ran for 21 yards while also completing two passes before time expired.

If that final sequence is a sign of things to come, the Gators are in trouble.

Kemore Gamble has looked amazing at tight end

• Florida’s quarterback issues haven’t improved much over the course of the season, but the Gators’ tight end play has evolved. The biggest evolver is Kemore Gamble. Remember tight ends coach Tim Brewster’s preseason prognosis on the senior tight end?

“Everybody says we’re going to miss Kyle Pitts. What are we going to do without Kyle Pitts?” he said. “Well, guess what? Kemore Gamble’s going to be the best tight end in the SEC. What do you think about that?”

That looked like mostly empty blather early in the season since UF wasn’t passing much to its tight ends. But Gamble’s really come on lately, catching six passes for 112 yards against Samford. He caught the 47-yard TD on the Gators’ opening drive today.

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