Anthony Richardson and Gators flop against Kentucky: ‘I played terrible’

A sellout Swamp crowd, a national television audience and 22 NFL scouts from 15 teams were eager to see what Anthony Richardson could do for an encore Saturday night against Kentucky.

With a top-10 ranking looming on an upset-filled day and Heisman buzz gathering just a week away, Florida’s taciturn quarterback fell back to earth and the Gators’ sudden ascension to No. 12 came crashing down during a 26-16 loss to No. 20 Wild cats.

Richardson and Napier took the blame during the Gators’ third loss in the last five meetings with the Wildcats, who had lost 31 in a row before a breakthrough win in 2018 in Gainesville.

“You have to take a good look in the mirror,” Napier said. “That’s exactly what I’m going to do, what our staff is going to do.”

Richardson plans to look inside.

The subdued redshirt sophomore from Gainesville took full responsibility for the loss.

“I feel like it’s totally up to me,” Richardson said. “A lot of people say it’s not, but I feel like it’s up to me. I played terribly.

“I didn’t do anything that would help my team.”

Richardson was nervous about the jump. He completed 1 of 4 passes on the opener, failed to record back-to-back completions in the first half and completed 14 of 35 for 143 yards and 2 interceptions while rushing for just 4 yards.

A week earlier, he totaled 274 yards, ran for 3 touchdowns and didn’t commit a turnover against No. 7 Utah.

The 2 interceptions Saturday night led to 14 Kentucky points, including a 65-yard pick-six from cornerback Kaidron Smith for the go-ahead score with 3:25 left in the third quarter and the Gators in charge.

Meanwhile, quarterback Will Lewis, another first-round prospect, showed superb poise during his second season as the Wildcats’ starter as a reported crowd of 88,993 looked on.

Levis completed his first 6 passes and finished a respectable 13 of 24 for 202 yards a touchdown and an interception while under constant pressure from the Gators’ defense. Kentucky’s QB connected with Dane Key for a 55-yard score as the 6-foot-3 freshman outran Georgia cornerback Jalen Kimber for the ball.

Florida 3 sacks and 7 quarterback hurries week after failing to throw Utah quarterback Cam Rising to the ground.

“Very good defensively,” Napier said.

Junior defensive tackle Jervon Dexter had his second career interception on a deflection down the floor by Brenton Cox Jr. to set up the Gators’ score for a 16-7 lead.

But with the offense struggling, Florida’s defense wore down as Kentucky ran and Lewis controlled the clock. The Wildcats held the ball for more than nearly 18 second-half minutes to walk away with back-to-back wins against the Gators for the first time since 1976-77.

Florida finished the night 5-of-19 in third/fourth place a week after going 9-of-14.

“We’re going to learn from this experience and get better,” Napier said. “We will be back and working. You have to take ownership. Certainly as a leader, that’s exactly the plan here. We can train better and we can play better. It starts with me.

“We’re going to get back to work and try to get better.”

This article first appeared on Email Edgar Thompson at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @osgators.


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