Russell Report: Remembering the times of Gator football and Florida Field

As the offseason wraps up, we reflect on the NIL drama and players transferring right and left in the portal
Published: Aug. 21, 2023 at 3:59 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - I looked to see how former Gator Quarterback Anthony Richardson did in his second preseason game of the year after he was named the Indianapolis Colts starting quarterback a few days ago. I couldn’t find any numbers on him and then I found out why. The decision was made not to play him in the game against the Chicago Bears. Now you understand if a veteran like Aaron Rodgers or Lamar Jackson wouldn’t play, but a guy with as little experience as Richardson not playing? That’s a head scratcher.  That’s not a knock on Richardson, but one would think you would want to give him a lot of preseason snaps to get ready for the regular season. And keep this in mind, according to CBS Sports, AR ties Mitch Trubisky for having the fewest college starts (13) of any first round pick since 2000. He also had the worst completion percentage at 55% since Jake Locker from the 2011 class. And in his first preseason game, he showed flashes of great ability but threw an ill-advised interception as well. In the big picture, this isn’t that big of a deal, but you have to admit, it was an interesting decision.

Another former Gator Quarterback, Kyle Trask, is trying to win the starting job in Tampa Bay over veteran Baker Mayfield. Mayfield started the first preseason game and Trask the second against the Jets. The Bucs won 13-6 and while he didn’t set the world on fire, Trask was 20 of 28 for 218 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions in a game where a lot of the regulars didn’t play. The Bucs selected Trask with the first pick of the second round and after Tom Brady, you would think a draft pick of that investment would be given a shot to start but it almost seems like they don’t want him to for some reason. The knock on him is his inexperience and being turnover prone but at some point, don’t you think the organization needs to truly see what they have in Trask, especially in a division that might be the weakest in the NFL?

This time next week, we’ll be talking about college football again because the regular season, in an abbreviated form, cranks up this weekend. I don’t know about you, but the start of the season couldn’t have come fast enough. It was a rough offseason with more NIL drama, players transferring right and left in the portal, not to mention huge upheaval in realignment that rendered the PAC 12, a league in operation since 1915 on life support after this season after many of its teams bolted for greener pastures and greener money. The power five is no more, realignment is more strange geographically than ever and players are getting paid. But happily when the season starts this weekend we can at least for a while just enjoy the games.

This season will be very special for me. This year is one of those years with a zero at the end of it. I won’t tell you how many. Since I saw my first Gator game as a student at the University of Florida. When I walked into Florida Field as it was called then, I couldn’t believe how big it was. We even got to play football on the field on Sundays! And back then student tickets were free! I walked from my Murphree dorm to the stadium decked out in my Gator shirt and got my introduction into SEC football and what a thrill it was. And when I go in again this season as a long-time media member, all these years later, I’ll still get the same thrill as I got all those years ago. The sport has changed, and it hasn’t all been pretty, but to be able to do something I wanted to do since i was a kid is still really special. I’m so fortunate. Enjoy the season. I’m Steve Russell, that’s the Russell Report!

RELATED: Russell Report: Are college football fans witnessing the end of the PAC 12 Conference?

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