Welcome to D-List. That’s Deadspin Dean’s list for the worst game of the weekend in college football. The beauty of college football is that we see raw soccer talent forged weekly right before our very eyes. This is a place for sloppy sculptures of talent, underdogs or college football teams and Heisman contenders who are going to lose a year after poor performances.
Anthony Richardson is bursting when he starts playing quarterback for the Florida Gators. A year ago, Richardson was the Superman of college football (before Caleb Williams ran away with the nickname and then Is it trademarked yet?). Richardson’s sublime gazes sent Florida into a frenzy not seen since Tim Tebow was choosing to run up the middle to relieve Chris Leak.
A year ago in a game against South Florida, Richardson marked his Kryptonian alter ego by completing all three of his attempts in 152 yards and breaking one Run to the ground 80 yards by crouching, knocking out a tackler in the first 10 yards of the run on the way to the 115-yard monster game.
A viral clip of Richardson passing an 80-yard pass to a receiver along the way at Manning Pass Academy fueled the hype train into the 2022 season. What went unnoticed about that clip. is that Richardson toppled his receiver by five yards.
After his hype machine forced out 2021 starter Emory Jones, Richardson entered 2022 as the undisputed starter. Since then, Richardson might be the single most disappointing player in the country, given the disparity between his production and what was imagined. Louisville’s Malik Cunningham is also off to an uncharacteristically slow start. Brennan Armstong has been a bummer so far, but they pale in comparison to Richardson.
Before the season, Richardson was being projected as a possible first-round prospect and Heisman dark horse. This season, he’s resembled a Bizarro Superman, wrecking the offense he’s supposed to be the leader of, and a future transfer portal QB. September is typically the month for pretenders to emerge. Richardson couldn’t even make it to October before fizzling out. He’s thrown four interceptions, while still only completing 41 passes for 423 yards.
He has the worst QBR in the SEC and the difference between his 89.0 QBR and the second-worst, Spencer Rattler (116.0), isn’t even close. The only quarterbacks nationally with a lower QBR than Richardson are J.T. Shrout of Colorado, Diego Pavia of New Mexico State, Joey Yellen from Hawaii, and Iowa’s Spencer Petras.
There’s no simpler way to put it: Richardson simply should not be starting for a top 25 program at this point. His promise was tantalizing, but it might be time for Florida to acknowledge whether he’s their starter. Bill Napier didn’t provide exceptional talent at the skill positions, but too often, the rest of Florida’s offense is being hindered by their quarterback’s kaboom-or-bust play.
For every miraculous feat (such as his dazzling 2-point conversion against Utah), there’s the awful lob in his return to South Florida that was picked off and nearly cost Florida the win, if it weren’t for USF’s amateurish execution late.
As a novelty, Richardson’s game-changing ability canceled out his inability to operate the mundane aspects of quarterback play, He throws 100mph fastballs when touch is required. Receivers consistently have to break stride and leap to reach his sailing throws.
To mitigate his overenthusiastic passing, the Gators’ offense has resorted to wide receiver screens that inflate his troublesome numbers. Against Kentucky in Week 2, Richardson was 14-for-35 and consistently high-balling throws that should have been easy completions. Yet, a third of his completions were shallow crosses and screens. They became so predictable that Kentucky linebacker Jordan Wright even picked one off. Richardson’s second interception was a miscommunication that resulted in Wildcats’ cornerback Keidron Smith is waiting for the card where Richardson expects the receiver to pick it up and return it to the endzone in six hours.
With no defenders around, Richardson is one of the biggest prospects we’ve ever seen. But Richardson’s tendency to direct touchdowns to another team has been all too common this season. However, all is not lost. Somehow, the Gators are still leading 2-1. The schedule is only going to get tougher from here for Florida, and if Richardson is going to survive, he’ll need to settle down, remove some mustard from some of his throws, take trending readings thrive and look for a five-yard profit instead of swinging home runs at every opportunity.