Emory Jones vows to go “back to work”

Emory Jones had waited patiently for three years for this moment. It’s been 1,335 days since Jones signed his National Letter of Intent, flipping from Ohio State to Florida — and Dan Mullen, the first coach to give him an SEC offer.

Saturday night, for the first time in his career, Jones led the Florida Gators offense on the field as the starting quarterback, a moment he had dreamed of, walked through and envisioned in his mind countless times, just never like it actually played out.

The start was fast. Jones led the Gators on an 11-play, 75-yard touchdown drive to start the game. The drive culminated on a play where Jones checked out of the initial call from the sideline to an option play that resulted in a Dameon Pierce touchdown run.

Things didn’t go completely off the rails but Jones finished 17-27 (63%) for 113 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions. He added 74 rushing yards on 10 carries but was outshined by his understudy.

“I feel like it was just, I mean sloppy, rusty,” he said when asked about the performance after the game. “We just gotta go back in the lab, get better, try to get better every week.”

There was a palpable excitement for the Emory Jones era. There were even fans who wanted to see more of Jones during a season that saw Kyle Trask throw the ball enough yards to cover his home state of Texas, yet, somewhere before halftime, there were fans calling for Jones’ starting job, something Jones was aware of even standing at the podium for his post game press conference.

“Yeah. That’s expected,” Jones said when asked about outside noise after the game. “(Anthony Richardson) went out there and did his thing. He played good. I’m happy for him. But I mean…I’m not really worried about that. I’ve just got to focus on next week.”

Jones isn’t alone. Dan Mullen made sure to stand firmly in his corner after the game. It wasn’t just Mullen either.

Anthony Richardson tweeted his support.


Senior defensive tackle Zach Carter also chimed in.

“I mean, it’s the first game of the year. Guys have jitters. It’s the first game, you have to get things out of you, and you know it’s, everybody knows how the first game can be sometimes,” Carter said. “But that’s why you keep building games on games on games, and teams start to get better as the year goes on. So if fans get overwhelmed with how things go the first game, I don’t know what to say but, we’re working, so.”

Jones looked good running the ball but there will be throws he’ll want back. Both interceptions are big learning chances. He starred down a receiver in the end zone and threw another deep ball high and right to an FAU defender. There were swing passes that were low, passed behind guys but it still is just the first game. Yes, he’s in his fourth year in the system but he’s still a first-time starter and will need to continue to develop. There was also a miscommunication down on the goal line that resulted in a turnover on downs.

“He got the wrong signal from the sideline, thought we called something we didn’t and missed communication,” Dan Mullen said of the 4th down play. “Great things there to learn from, I mean, if he’s not sure with the communication I didn’t know he wasn’t sure when we’re running a play because it looks like we’re in the right formation and all that stuff he wasn’t sure with the play call. That’s an experience deal in a first start right there. He’s sitting out there and saying I got to make plays. You called this and I got to make a play and he got the wrong signal from the sidelines. In that situation it doesn’t seem right, he’s got to take a timeout for us and say, this doesn’t seem right, just let me just make sure and have the, you know, fix errors that come from the sideline fix it on the field.”

It didn’t help that his understudy rushed for the most yards of a Florida quarterback since 2012 and hurdled a human with relative ease. This is still Jones’ team. He holds himself to a higher standard than even the most fervent fan, which is why his Saturday night won’t end until Sunday morning. As Jones was leaving his press conference one reporter wondered if he’d go home and sleep the game off, get back to work in the morning. Not the case, Jones said. He wasn’t leaving the building

“I’m going to watch it right now,” Jones said of the game film. “Right now.”


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