• Ainslie Lee

Florida Gators Fall Camp: Brian Johnson Offers More Than Just An Update On The QB Room

Brian Johnson was an excellent college player...but hopes those days are behind him. Photo Credit: Alex Shepherd

It’s a generous offer. 

“I’ll give you one series and then I’m out,” Florida Gators quarterback coach Brian Johnson joked with the media on Wednesday night. 

Johnson’s remark came after being asked what the plan would be if Florida’s quarterback room were to be plagued by ailments – whether it be from Covid-19 or injuries.

If it really came down to it, playing the former (and now 33-year old) Utah Utes quarterback might be a solid last resort. 

But until then, thanks, but no thanks, Coach Johnson. 

When Johnson isn’t fantasizing about being back out on the playing field, he’s busy coaching a deep room of quarterbacks in Gainesville. 

Returners Kyle Trask and Emory Jones, are joined by early-enrollee Anthony Richardson this fall. And as a unit, Johnson and his trio of signal callers are making the most of the offseason that has given them so little. 

I'm not sure any Gator fan is complaining about Kyle Trask being the starting point for the Gators this season. Courtesy of Alex Shepherd

“Depth is a huge advantage in any year,” Johnson said. “But particularly in a year with such uncertainty going forward.”

Elsewhere in the SEC, it seems that most teams are burdened with the near-impossible task of finding a starting quarterback with a shortened fall camp and the discussion of depth is well off of the radar.

Meanwhile, in Gainesville, camp has been rampant. Yet, the severe urgency of finding a starting quarterback and building an offensive regime hasn’t found its way into Florida’s fall camp.

Instead, the Gators have a good idea of what’s to be expected from their offense.

In turn, that has left room for Florida’s quarterbacks to give other areas of their game attention. For Trask, that meant focusing less on how his body moves, and more on what makes it move.

“Kyle has done a tremendous job thus far just in terms of taking things to the next level,” Johnson said of Trask. “From a leadership stand point, from a football stand point and he’s done a great job with his body. He’s down probably 10-12 pounds. He’s looking lean.”

According to Johnson, after Trask broke his foot in 2018, the Texan-bred quarterback gained 10-12 pounds. Trask himself admitted to feeling a little heavy towards the end of last season.

Getting that weight off, through what Trask described as “eating the right things and drinking a ton of water” has improved his “suddenness in the pocket and escapability” – something we didn’t see a ton of in 2019.

Instead, Trask’s counterpart, Emory Jones, was the more elusive of the two in the pocket. And like Trask, Johnson has also seen Jones make a leap in production despite the nontraditional offseason.

“Emory is a very special talent,” Johnson says of the redshirt sophomore. “He’s got a ton of juice in his arm. He’s continued to get better and better. His arm strength has never been a problem. It just all comes down to him putting it all together. He can be dynamic and change the game with his legs as well.”

Emory Jones' talent? Yeah, we've seen enough to know he's got it. Courtesy of Alex Shepherd

Though Jones’ sample size is small, the tested backup went 25-for-38 last year, totaling 267 yards and three touchdowns.

A good series to hone in on is Jones’ drive against Auburn in 2019 after Trask took a low hit that looked scarier than it ended up being.

After Trask’s injury silenced the a sellout crowd, Jones drove 51 yards down the field in a 5-for-7 effort that ended in a field goal -- proving he is ready if needed.

“It just all comes down to him putting it all together,” Johnson said of Jones. “He can be dynamic and change the game with his legs as well.”

Rounding out the group is true freshman and early-enrollee Anthony Richardson.

To date, Richardson has garnered great praise from Florida’s staff.

“From what I’ve seen so far, he picks things up really fast, which is great,” Mullen said of Richardson last week. “He’s taken a lot in and learned a lot from our ability to have all these different meetings. He’s picked things up really fast.”

On Wednesday, Johnson echoed Mullen’s sentiment saying, “He’s obviously got a ton of God-given ability and he’s a really fast learner.”

By the sounds of it, Johnson and Florida’s quarterbacks are expecting to pick up right where they left off in 2020.

Two quarterback systems aren’t for everybody. It just so happens that it fits Mullen’s scheme perfectly.

“We just try to preach to those guys that when the other guy runs on, you run off. And we use it to our advantage,” Johnson said.

Across the conference, it’s likely we will see a lot of different quarterbacks running onto the field mid-drive. And for most, that will stick out as a sign of instability under center.

But if you see Kyle Trask, Emory Jones, Anthony Richardson or even Brian Johnson trot out to the huddle, rest assured, the Gators are right where they want to be.

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