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Is Anthony Richardson The Next Lamar Jackson? Maybe

Sep 2, 2022, 10:37 AM
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TAMPA, FLORIDA - SEPTEMBER 11: Anthony Richardson #15 of the Florida Gators rushes for a fourth quarter touchdown during a game against the South Florida Bulls at Raymond James Stadium on September 11, 2021 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY – Utah heads to The Swamp this Saturday afternoon in a huge game against the Florida Gators. It is big because there are sky-high expectations for the Utes and they are opening up against an SEC foe.

The Gators are coming in with a sense of newness with Billy Napier as its head coach, plus there is starting quarterback Anthony Richardson.

There is a lot of pendulum swinging when discussing how the former four-star recruit will perform at the college level. Richardson has just 39 completed passes at the college level but he is expected to have a high ceiling with some talk that he could be a first-round, if not a top-10, NFL  Draft pick once he leaves Florida.

The hype has been all over the place and that includes Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham who gave him a glowing comparison to a former NFL MVP, Heisman Trophy winner and a national championship-winning quarterback.

“You have to account for the QB in the run game every single down. The guy reportedly has 4.3 speed. At that size, it’s incredible. It’s Cam Newton-ish type of numbers with his physical stature and his ability to run,” Whittingham said during his press conference this week. “That’s something that the defensive staff is well aware of and that’s gotta be taken into account in virtually everything you do.”

That is a lot of praise for a guy who has not even thrown 70 passes in his collegiate career. Richardson’s coach, Napier, wants everyone to pump the breaks on anointing him as the next big Florida Gator quarterback.

“I know we all want to put a crown on his head,” Napier said last week. “I mean, the guy has completed 39 passes in his career. The great quarterbacks at the University of Florida, they complete 39 in one game.”

Richardson is really a big unknown with little game film.

Matt Baker of the Tampa Bay Times joined Unrivaled this week and mentioned Richardson’s brilliance and flash comparing him to a different NFL MVP, but also provided some context for the level of competition he faced to look so good.

“The good is that he can make plays. Watching the highlights of him against Florida Atlantic. He had a play or two – Lamar Jackson may not be the best player I’ve seen with my own eyes but he is on that shortlist – Anthony had a play or two that reminded me of Lamar Jackson,” Baker said. “His arm is really good, too. He made some legit NFL throws.

“You can see the flashes where this guy looks incredible and you can totally buy the top 10 hype. However, it’s six touchdowns last year to five interceptions, that is the sample size. Go back and look at the five interceptions and four were pretty darn bad. Look at the competition… his great games were against FAU, USF, and Vanderbilt, three very bad teams. He did well off the bench against LSU but they ultimately lost and he threw a bad pick that sealed that defeat.”

All Utah can do is go off the film they have of Richardson last year and also what Napier did during his time at Louisiana to prepare for this game. Fully expect defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley and Whittingham to draw up a defensive scheme to attempt to fool Richardson who seemingly has all the talent in the world but is still very inexperienced.

This defensive matchup will be the toughest Richardson has seen in his young career with the Gators. He likely will make some plays and also some blunders when he tries to do too much or the Utes force him into uncomfortable positions.

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Is Anthony Richardson The Next Lamar Jackson? Maybe