Florida Gators’ backup quarterbacks battling with Jack Miller III out at least two game weeks

By OnlyGators.com Staff
August 21, 2022
Florida Gators’ backup quarterbacks battling with Jack Miller III out at least two game weeks
Football

Image Credit: Jordan McKendrick, UAA

With two weeks remaining until kickoff, the Florida Gators appeared to be settled on the two-deep at quarterback entering the 2022 college football season. That was until an untimely injury to redshirt freshman Jack Miller III kicked open the backup job behind sophomore starter Anthony Richardson.

Miller this week suffered a thumb avulsion fracture with his ligament ripped away so forcefully that it took a piece of the bone with it. Head coach Billy Napier confirmed Sunday that Miller, a key offseason transfer from Ohio State, has already completed surgery and will be out at least through Week 2 of the season with the player off the practice field for at least four total weeks.

“We’re hopeful that we’ll get him back for Week 3,” said Napier, who after the first scrimmage praised Miller for displaying good decision making and arm talent. “He’ll be in a cast for a couple weeks as that thing grows back together, and then he’ll start the rehab process. And then it’ll be very much a competition there for the backup spot.” 

With Miller sidelined, redshirt freshman Jalen Kitna and redshirt sophomore walk-on Kyle Engel will be the key players competing for the No. 2 job. Kitna recently returned to practice after missing numerous days with a lower-body injury but has the best chance to take over behind Richardson.

“Mentally, he’s probably one of the brighter kids in that room and has probably worked as hard as anybody to get to a point [where he can play],” said Napier of Kitna, whom he previously praised for improving his fundamentals. “… He really jumped in with both feet [this offseason] and has a really good understanding — I would say as good as anybody in the room — of what’s going on out there.”

Napier called Florida’s summer program a “gauntlet” for the quarterbacks. Kitna and Engel emerged from that trying time as the Gators’ best options with true freshman Max Brown — a former three-star prospect ranked 1,558th in the 247Sports Composite — still behind mentally given he’s a rookie.

“Both those guys are really smart, have a good understanding of what we do and have moved the team,” said Napier of Kitna and Engel. “In particular in [Saturday’s] scrimmage, [they] showed an ability to move the team.”

As far as whether Miller’s injury will change how Florida plans on using Richardson, the coach remained coy. However, Napier did concede that forcing Richardson to stay in the pocket and not utilize his athletic gifts would not be the right decision for the Gators.

“For us to win, Anthony Richardson — we’re going to play to his strengths. The guy is a phenomenal athlete. He can make plays with his feet — some of those being designed, some of those being a threat and some of those are unannounced,” he explained. “The key here is that he makes the right decision, and a lot of that is going to be determined depending on our situation at that position. But there’s no question we’re going to use Anthony’s legs. It’s got to be a part of who we are and what we do.”

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