Florida fans had to be frustrated Saturday night watching Anthony Richardson continue to drop back and fire fastballs into the turf — or worse, into the hands of Kentucky defenders.

(I’ve watched the pick-6 a dozen times and I still have no idea what Nay’Quan Wright was doing on the play. He looked like, well, a gassed running back with good hands lined up at a position he doesn’t ordinarily play. Clearly, Anthony Richardson saw something in the off coverage Wright didn’t. And then Wright complicated matters by casually jogging after Keidron Smith. Horrific optics.)

But let’s focus on the actual play call, shall we?

That’s the genesis of the problem.

Wright had just run the ball on the previous 2 carries. His most recent carry was to the left side, an 8-yard gain on 3rd-and-3 that moved the chains. He then sprinted over to the right side of the formation. He looked gassed before the play began. When you’re exhausted, mental execution is the first sign. Clearly he wasn’t expecting the football. Slow off the line, didn’t read the coverage, didn’t turn his head.

Remember, Florida had just run 3 consecutive times for 15 yards, moving to Kentucky’s 39-yard line. There was no need to do anything other than keep pounding. The score was tied, The Swamp was coming alive and the offense was in the midst of its best drive of the game.

Do you think, given those same circumstances, Gene Chizik asks Cam Newton to throw that pass to Michael Dyer or Mario Finn? There’s no chance. And that’s the rub.

We can debate all day whether Anthony Richardson is Cam Newtwon 2.0 or Cam Newton 0.2 — but what’s not debatable is Anthony Richardson’s best skill is his running ability.

He’s learning as a passer. He’s the most dangerous athlete on the field as a runner. That’s the scouting report. It should be the game plan, too.

He had 6 carries Saturday. That’s it. And that’s inexcusable. That’s coaching malpractice.

He threw the ball 28 times in a one-possession game. He finished with 35 pass attempts. Florida fans better hope that’s a career-high.

Want some context?

Cam Newton never threw 35 passes in a game in an Auburn uniform.

Tim Tebow never threw 35 passes in a game in his sophomore season, you know, the Heisman season.

Vince Young didn’t throw 35 passes in a game until his 22nd game at Texas.

Dak Prescott only threw 35 passes in a game once in his first 32 games at Mississippi State.

Once Dan Mullen figured out what Nick Fitzgerald could — and could not do — Fitzgerald never threw 35 passes in any of his final 29 games at Mississippi State. Joe Moorhead had Fitzgerald for the final 12 games. He already knew. Fitzgerald threw it 281 times and ran it 221.

Lamar Jackson had double-digit carries 34 times in 38 games at Louisville. He had 20+ carries 13 times. Only once did he throw it 20+ more times than he ran it.

Too heady? Want a more realistic comp for Richardson? OK, Arkansas QB KJ Jefferson has thrown 35 passes in a game exactly twice — and Arkansas lost both games, convincingly. Jefferson’s largest pass/run differential is +20 — in a game Arkansas also lost. This season, Jefferson has attempted 47 passes and 37 rushes. That’s a dual-threat by design.

Again, in his 3rd career start, Richardson threw the ball 29 more times than he ran it. Are you kidding? That’s exactly how every defensive coordinator would draw it up.

Newton had 8 games in 2010 in which he ran more than he threw. He never had a game where he threw 15 more times than he ran. He finished the perfect 2010 season with 292 pass attempts and 285 rushes.

The year he won the Heisman, Tebow never had a game in which he threw it 29 more times than he ran it.

There are more examples, but the point remains: Design a game plan that maximizes your quarterback’s skill set.

Napier did the exact opposite Saturday against Kentucky.

Credit Napier for immediately admitting as much. Obviously, he’s taking the heat to keep the focus off his quarterback, whose confidence clearly was shaken. Richardson stunk. There’s no sugar-coating a 14-for-35 passing effort. His accuracy woes reminded me of a young Randy Johnson — just a bit outside. I suppose it’s a good thing no birds were killed Saturday by some of Richardson’s wayward fastballs.

The arm strength is impressive, no doubt, but it’s also a distant second in the tool kit that makes him the SEC’s most dangerous dual-threat quarterback.

He’s a runner. So run him. Florida doesn’t need to strive for a 50/50 balance with Richardson, but every pass he throws beyond a 60/40 ratio is a win for the defense.

I made this point before the game Saturday and stand by it: If Kentucky can find success converting a diminutive receiver into a one-dimensional running threat — which it clearly did, on the fly, with Lynn Bowden — then certainly the Gators can design a better way to unleash Richardson’s natural running skills.

Florida’s season depends on it.

This is no time to wing it. It’s time to tuck it and go.