By: Garrett Ballard
The unranked Florida Gators upset the #7 ranked Utah Utes 29-26 in week one of the 2022 college football season. Anthony Richardson dazzles and the defense comes up clutch at the goal line as Billy Napier earns his first win as the Gators’ head coach.
A rainy evening in Gainesville, Florida gave this instant classis the quintessential swamp feel. Napier, Richardson and the rest of the Gators team marched out onto the field to try and open their 2022 season with a statement win, and they did just that.
Anthony Richardson shows his abilites
Richardson led the way on Saturday, with a stellar three touchdown performance that saw him use both his arm and legs to dismantle Utah. After an early fumble by Florida and a subsequant score by Utah, Richardson led the offense on a long scoring drive that tied the game at seven after one quarter. Richardson would go on to rush for two more touchdowns against Utah, including a 45-yarder late in the first half to put Florida back in the lead.
Richardson finished the game with 168 yards passing and 106 yards rushing, with three rushing touchdowns.
Napier was nothing but complimentary of Richardson after the game. “That’s his first start in The Swamp,” Napier said. “He’s going to continue to improve.”
“We’re figuring out here that he is becoming a very special player,” Napier said.
People all across the country think so as well. People on social media are comparing Richardson to Cam Newton when he was at Auburn. Even though this was just one game, it was a statement win that let’s people know the Gators are for real.
Gators’ defense comes up clutch
This win would not have happened without the defense, however. There were times when the defense gave up some big plays, but they shut Utah down when they needed to the most. About halfway through the third quarter, Utah drove down the field and got to the one yard line, where the Gators defense was able to stuff Utah and force a turnover after a fumble on fourth down. Despite the offense not answering, it kept points off the board for Utah.
The biggest moment of the game came with less than twenty seconds left in the game. After a touchdown vaulted the Gators into the lead, the Utes were able to easily get into the redzone. With 22 seconds left, Amari Burney intercepted a pass from Cam Rising to win the game for the Gators.
Burney, in his sixth year, has been a starter for this Gators defense for years, and he came up with the game saving play. Napier is particularly fond of Burney.
“Amari Burney is one of my favorite players,” Napier said. “He’s in his sixth year, he’s played like 1,600 snaps here. I call him old man… to see that guy make the play. I think that’s a special moment for that locker room.”
The Florida Gators move to 1-0 on the season and play the #20 Kentucky Wildcats in Gainesville on September 10th. The game is scheduled to start at 7:00 P.M. Eastern time.