After the seemingly interminable spring and summer Steve Spurrier so astutely called “talking season,” there’s nothing better than Week 1 of college football season. The endless string of hypotheticals that made fertile fodder for office space and message board debate gives way to fight songs, that first handshake with a longtime family friend at a tailgate, crowds belting out Tom Petty anthems at the end of the third quarter and, finally, a few answers.

Of course, after months of talking, the reality of Week 1 is that it mostly just serves as a catalyst for more talking and conjecture. The small sample size of Week 1 is just that — a sampling– and it often leads to some wild overreactions.

Notable Week 1 takes over the years?

2014 — Kenny “Trill” Hill will win the Heisman at Texas A&M (he transferred to TCU with 0 Heismans)
1994 — A deep cut!! Brent Musberger asking “How many Heismans will he win?” about Notre Dame’s young Ron Powlus (0, as it turned out)
2013 — Jadeveon Clowney doesn’t care about college football because he played sparingly in a comfortable win in 91-degree heat (he finished the year as an All-American for an 11-2 South Carolina team)
2016 –Houston will break the Group of 5 playoff ceiling after routing Oklahoma on opening night (the Cougars finished middle of the pack in the AAC and went to the Las Vegas Bowl)
2016 — Charlie Strong’s Texas beats Notre Dame in a wild one, and, well, I don’t mean to do this to the great Joe Tessitore but now that Hook Em’ is headed to the SEC…

I don’t assign blame to these overreactions. Instead, they strike me as part of the human condition of a collective of fans and writers who suffer through the longest offseason in sports and have become so desperate to talk about actual football that by the time toe meets leather in Week 1, they’ve abandoned whatever levels of rationality and restraint that typically inform their opinions.

Week 1 overreactions are a tale as old as time. And this season, much of that tale in the SEC seems firmly fixed on the youth, rocket arm and sturdy, swift legs of Florida backup quarterback Anthony Richardson.

Emory Jones waited four seasons to start, and after a promising first quarter, he struggled and sputtered. The Gators scored only 7 points between quarters 1 and 4, with Jones throwing 2 interceptions and coming up empty on 2 red zone possessions. The second of those failures was especially frustrating, as Jones misinterpreted a play call from the sideline and ran a doomed quarterback sneak on 4th and goal from the 4-yard line, snuffing out a long Florida drive. A player in his fourth year on campus should know the playbook and signals and avoid that type of error. And even if the verbiage or signals change, a kid often praised as cerebral on and off the field should have the good sense to realize it’s unlikely Dan Mullen called an under-center quarterback keeper on 4th and goal from the 4. Mullen’s astonished sideline reaction told anyone watching at home all he needed to know about that error, which clearly bothered Mullen more than Jones’ interceptions did.

On the evening, Jones averaged a miserable 4.2 yards per completion against a Group of 5 defense. Worse, he appeared to have minimal chemistry with two of Florida’s most promising playmakers: Xzavier Henderson, who was quiet as a mouse most of the night, and Jacob Copeland, who caught a pass early in the game and was never heard from again.

Jones’ struggles in his first start — which Jones’ team won comfortably — would have been a reality that Florida fans could grapple with more calmly had they not witnessed Richardson, his highly recruited backup, do a young Cam Newton impression in front of their eyes.

Richardson completed Florida’s longest pass play of the night, connecting on his first 3 throws for 40 yards and leading 3 drives that resulted in red zone trips. But it wasn’t the numbers, or even the efficiency of the Gators’ possessions with Richardson at the helm, that had so many Gators fans and football writers wondering if there was a quarterback controversy at Florida.

It was the spark — the wow factor — that Richardson provided, the sense that something special was brewing at quarterback and that all of us in the building, from the alumni side to the Sunshine Seats to press row to the presidential suite, were witnesses.

There was Richardson running away from an FAU defense that defensive coordinator Mike Stoops set up to prevent chunk plays:

Then there was Richardson evading a free pass rusher after a missed block and doing his best Grant Holloway in hurdling another tackler to create a first down out of an almost certain loss of yardage one possession later.

The Gators’ offense moved more crisply with Richardson at the helm. The “spark,” the “wow factor,” is a real thing worth considering given the elephants in the room — or at least from Tuscaloosa — are only 2 weeks from a visit to The Swamp.

Then again, there’s the risk that the Gators fans on Twitter, message boards and other social media platforms pleading for Richardson to be QB 1 are succumbing a bit to “Week 1 overreaction” syndrome. And it wasn’t just fans. Analysts tweeted praise for Richardson and discussed it on shows like SEC Nation and Sportscenter.

I texted my great friend Sean, one of the smartest fans I know, about the situation late in the game, wondering aloud if “I’d seen enough” to know Richardson was QB 1.

It’s a good thing we get to sleep on our sizzling Week 1 hot takes.

For one thing, there’s a reason Jones started the game, and it isn’t just about loyalty. Mullen said as much Saturday night in his postgame press conference, noting that Richardson’s grasp of the totality of what Florida wants to do on offense is simply not at Jones’ level at present.

“Our quarterback needs to be able to run the whole offense,” Mullen said. “Anthony’s still growing with that and growing with situations.”

Goal-line play call gaffe aside, Jones attempted 27 passes for a reason: Florida can show more looks, run more stuff, and challenge defenses in different ways thanks to Jones’ knowledge of Florida’s system.

Jones also offers explosiveness in the run game. There was no 73-yard touchdown run — but there was 7.4 yards per carry and 74 yards total, and Jones was, just a season ago, the No. 1 quarterback in college football in rushing success rate, per Pro Football Focus. If the Gators are going to rely heavily on a ground game that churned out 400 yards Saturday night, Jones is quite capable of leading it.

Jones was also accountable.

Visibly disappointed in his performance, Jones took the time to praise and build up Richardson rather than worrying about the young man staring over his shoulder. He fired off a series of tweets celebrating Richardson’s play while readily acknowledging he needs to be better.

“I didn’t feel good about (how I played),” Jones said after the game. “I missed too many throws, some that I just don’t miss. I’ve got to get locked in and get better next week.”

He does. But he still had that terrific first quarter, where he led 2 smooth touchdown drives, converting critical 3rd downs along the way and checking into a beautiful option play for a touchdown on the opening possession. Jones showed promise; now he needs to show consistency.

Mullen appears prepared to give him that chance. He wasn’t coy when Cole Cubelic asked him how long it would take to decide who his starting quarterback would be in Week 2. “Emory Jones. Why would you ask that?” Mullen replied, likely well aware that Cubelic was asking a reasonable question.

But Mullen isn’t just blindly loyal. He’s a head coach with one of the best records of quarterback development in the sport. Mullen’s quarterbacks — even ones that are significantly limited (Nick Fitzgerald, Chris Relf) in some areas — succeed. Jones isn’t “limited.” He’s inexperienced. Mullen’s development track record, which includes Tim Tebow, Alex Smith, Chris Leak and Dak Prescott but also includes bringing along a young Cam Newton, who wowed crowds at The Swamp in spot play in 2007, merits trust.

When the sizzle of the Week 1 overractions simmers and subsides, Florida fans will likely realize this.

Mullen thought so, noting this is, to quote The Wire’s Marlo Stanfield, “one of those good problems.”

“Both of them have the ability to make explosive plays,” Mullen said after the game. “The nice thing is I’m confident with both the quarterbacks. Emory is our starter.”

Jones stays for now. But Richardson’s time is coming — maybe sooner than we thought.