The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference
The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference

At Florida, It's Time For A New Quarterback To Shine

560 days ago
Kevin Scarbinsky
Photo: Fred Daniels

If you think Emory Jones is primarily a runner as the heir apparent to Kyle Trask as Florida's starting quarterback, one of his teammates on the other side of the ball would like you to reconsider your position.

"He hasn't really played a lot so people may not know what to expect," said defensive lineman Zach Carter. "I see greatness from him. I'm excited to see him get his opportunity and see him shine. People think he's just a runner. Emory has one of the best arms I've seen since I've been here. He brings everything to the table."

Every Florida quarterback, including the redshirt junior Jones and redshirt freshman Anthony Richardson, benefits from the experience of head coach Dan Mullen as a quarterback whisperer. At various stops, Mullen has tutored the likes of Alex Smith, Tim Tebow and Dak Prescott. Trask climbed the depth chart to set single-season school records for passing touchdowns (43) and passing yards (4,283) last season.

Asked whether the Florida offense will look more like his "bread-and-butter" attack with the versatile Jones taking over for Trask, a more traditional dropback passer, Mullen said, "I don't know what my bread-and-butter is because we've been all over the place with every different style of quarterback.

"I think the key to it is, and one of the reasons we've been successful is, never try to take a square peg and put it into a round hole. It's identifying what our guys do really well and build around the strengths of not just the quarterback, but the offense as a whole."

Mullen pointed out that Jones has experience "in key times in significant games" and that he's grown and matured while waiting his turn. Mullen also remembered how Jones responded to one of his recruiting texts.

"He says, 'Coach, when this shakes out, be ready. I want to be your quarterback.' Not, 'I want to look at Florida. I want to consider this, or I'm thinking about flipping schools.' It was, 'I want to be your quarterback.' "

If Jones is ready for his moment, if Carter and the Florida defense can improve on a season that saw them surrender 50-plus points in each of their final two starts, the Gators will have a chance to return to the SEC Championship Game for a second straight year. They challenged SEC and eventual national champion Alabama like no one else before falling 52-46.

Witnessing Alabama's postgame celebration in Mercedes-Benz Stadium still sticks with Carter.

"I'll never forget that moment, standing on the field, watching the confetti," Carter said. "It hurt in the moment, but in the back of my head, I said, 'We'll be back.' We saw how small the margin of error is to win the SEC title."