There’s no dominant signal caller returning to a Florida program in 2022. There’s one that’s close (see below), but overall quarterback play from Florida college football programs did not meet expectations in 2021. For those same programs to come back to prominence, that absolutely must change during the 2022 college football season.
Fewer turnovers and more consistency, that’s where it begins. Further, those highlight reel passing plays that became the norm during the 1980s, 1990s, and into the 2000s are not as common of late either. When Kyle Trask left Florida, he left as a Heisman finalist. Who’s next to step at the quarterback position in the talent-rich state of Florida?
The following programs are listed in alphabetical order.
Returning QB: Emory Jones has gone to Arizona State to play his last season. In 2021, Jones statistics include 2,734 yards, 64.7%, 19 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He opened the game behind center except the contest against Georgia.
Of course the player Gators fans are continuing to clamor for would be third-year quarterback Anthony Richardson, not Jones. He’s the native son, playing at Eastside High School in Gainesville, just down the road from Ben Hill Griffin Stadium where he now plays for the Gators. His athleticism and big-play ability are why Florida fans are excited.
His first 11 carries of 2021 saw him gain 275 yards and two touchdowns. Those two outstanding statistics did not extend to the passing game, however, and that’s why he consistently came in and out of the lineup. Richardson needs to hold a far stronger grasp of the offensive playbook, according to those around the UF program last year, for him to reach his potential.
What Richardson does possess as a passer is a big-time arm, plus a hulking 6’4”, 235-pound frame to make those passes. He can extend plays as well as any player in college football. The next phase is making the best decisions with the football and make throws accurately and on time. He will see new leadership in Gainesville attempting to help him do just that.
It’s year one for newly hired Head Football Coach Billy Napier and his staff. If that new coaching staff can harness Richardson’s athleticism and coach him up with the playbook, Florida could be the surprise team in the SEC East. If not, the record of 6-7 from 2021 could come back around in 2022.
Key Games: Sep. 3 Utah at Florida, Sep. 10 Kentucky at Florida, Sep. 24 Florida at Tennessee, Oct. 15 LSU at Florida, Oct. 29 Florida vs. Georgia (Jacksonville), Nov. 5 Florida at Texas A&M, and Nov. 25 Florida at FSU.
Florida State Seminoles
Returning QB: Jordan Travis in 2021 – 1,539 yards, 62.9%, 15 touchdowns and six interceptions.
Known as more of a runner than a passer, Travis is a superb athlete. He’s shown flashes of excellent quarterback play. Now, the pressure is on him to really make something happen. 2022 represents his fourth year in a Florida State uniform. It’s been even longer than when Travis was on campus for the Seminoles to produce good quarterback play.
The last time a Florida State quarterback consistently did well would be former ‘Noles quarterback Deondre Francois in 2016. His 3,350 yards, 58.8%, 20 touchdowns and seven interceptions seemed to be a promising start to his career. Injuries did him no favors in derailing those hopes. There has not been a start-to-finish good season from an FSU quarterback since then.
Can Jordan Travis come through in his fifth season of college football? He went through moments in 2021 where a Seminole fan could start to feel good. Then, inexplicably, there would be a disappointing moment, ie an interception or poorly thrown pass that causes angst yet again from FSU fans. Rightfully so, the Garnet and Gold faithful want to see more consistent production, especially like the clutch pass Travis made at the end of the Miami game to help the Seminoles come back against their archrivals.
Now, can Travis begin to put it all together in 2022? From this entire list, his play by him might be the most important of any signal caller. FSU needs to show progress in 2022 or there could be ramifications to the coaching staff. A great way to avoid that situation stems from Travis being a consistent playmaker from the quarterback position.
Key Games: The Seminoles’ schedule is full of potentially close games. Sep. 4 FSU vs LSU (New Orleans), Sep. 16 FSU at Louisville, Sep. 24 Boston College at FSU, Oct. 1 Wake Forest at FSU, Oct. 8 North Carolina State at FSU, Oct. 15 Clemson at FSU, Nov. 5 FSU at Miami, and Nov. 25 Florida at FSU.
Returning QB: Tyler Van Dyke – 2,931, 62.3%, 25 touchdowns and six interceptions.
When D’Eriq King went down with an injury in 2021, it did not look good for the Hurricanes. The fifth-year senior is out of the lineup and there’s a little known sophomore stepping into the Miami lineup. Well, sometimes things just happen that cannot be explained. With the introduction of Van Dyke in 2021, Miami’s passing game began to take to new levels. Van Dyke is definitely the best returning quarterback in the state of Florida, and it’s not even close.
During his eight starts, Van Dyke threw for over 200 yards in each game, including going over 300 yards in all of his last six contests behind center. His highlight game would be against North Carolina State in which he threw for 325 yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions while completing 75.1% of his passes. The Hurricanes won a thriller against the Wolfpack 31-30.
Now, can the rising junior take the next step and be a consistently dominant player? Most of the time Van Dyke did just that in 2021. He’s already close. If he improves just a little bit more via a few more clutch decisions and passes, Miami could take a big step forward as a program in 2022. The 7-5 record in 2021 could become a 9-3 or 10-2 record in 2022 with Van Dyke’s second season as the Miami starting quarterback.
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Key Games: Sep. 17 at Texas A&M, Nov. 5 FSU at Miami, Nov. 19 Miami at Clemson, and Nov. 26 Pittsburgh at Miami.
Returning QB: Mikey Keene (started 10 games) – 1,730 yards, 63.6%, 17 touchdowns and six interceptions.
First, UCF needs to finalize which quarterback will start – Keene or Ole Miss transfer John Rhys Plumlee – in 2022. There’s been a quarterback battle that’s been going on since Plumlee has been on campus this offseason. Maybe there’s a two-quarterback system?
However it unfolds, that’s going to be interesting. UCF Head Coach Gus Malzahn wants to see more of an explosive offense, with some of those big plays coming via the starting quarterback’s legs. Plumlee does provide that actually quite well. Can Keene keep him out of the starting lineup? Can Plumlee keep the job all to himself? The list of questions about the UCF quarterback position is extensive. The odds-on favorite to win the job is Plumlee after his terrific performance from him during the UCF Spring Game, but that’s just part of the battle. Still summer workout and fall camp.
Bottom line, UCF needs more consistent quarterback play in 2022. Let’s see how it shakes out between Keene and Plumlee, as that can be the difference for UCF during its last season in the American Athletic Conference before jumping to the Big XII in 2023.
Key Games: Sep. 9 Louisville at UCF, Sep. 24 Georgia Tech at UCF, Oct. 1 SMU at UCF, Oct. 29 Cincinnati at UCF, and Nov. 26 UCF at USF.
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