All eyes will be on Billy Napier as he takes the podium at the 2022 SEC Media Days for the first time as the head coach of the Florida Gators. Quarterback Anthony Richardson, offensive lineman Richard Gouraige, and linebacker Ventrell Miller will join Napier in Atlanta. The four-day event starts on July 18th and ends on July 21st, with the Gators taking the stand on Wednesday, July 20th.
Recruiting has caused a flurry of emotions thus far in Napier’s time in Gainesville. You can expect a hefty load of recruiting and NIL related questions, and rightfully so. Napier told us that the NIL would be a “slam dunk” at the University of Florida, and quite frankly, it doesn’t appear that’s the case. I thought Napier did an exceptional job closing out on some key players in the 2022 class, and the 2023 class is far from over. I want to hear how Napier grades the current class so far, what the strengths and weaknesses are, and how they plan on closing out the class. The transfer portal will be another topic of discussion during SEC Media Days. Napier previously discussed creating depth via the transfer portal. I want to know if Napier believes the Gators did that this offseason and how they plan to utilize it in the future. Finally, I want to find out what Napier’s expectations are for this year’s Florida Gators.
There’s no doubt that all eyes will be on the Gators quarterback come Wednesday. Richardson has been receiving quite the praise from the media this offseason. With top five Heisman odds and first round mock draft projections, Richardson is holding an immense amount of pressure heading into the season. Has he let the pressure get to him? Has his approach changed from last season to this season? How has the change in coaching staff affected his game play? There’s no doubt that Richardson has the talent to light up the scoreboard this year, but does he have the help around him?
Richard Gouraige is tasked with possibly the most important job on the team, blocking Richardson’s blind side. Gouraige is the seasoned veteran across the offensive line, starting 24 games over the last two seasons and 29 over the last three. Gouraige has played primarily left tackle but made starts at guard earlier in his career. The versality should help Gouraige as he takes on a stronger leadership role for this team. I want to know what steps Gouraige has taken towards being a leader on the offensive line, how is he helping the younger players develop, and what advice is he giving them? Gouraige knows better than anyone how the defensive line is coming along, who is the hardest to block? Are there any surprises along the defensive line? Napier placed an emphasis on there being two offensive line coaches in Gainesville. I want to know if Gouraige has noticed a difference and if he’s benefited from that.
Ventrell Miller is making his second appearance at the SEC Media Days and is returning for his sixth and final season as a Florida Gator. Miller had every opportunity to leave for the NFL after the 2020 season. Miller led the team in tackles with 88, added 3.5 sacks, and 7.5 tackles for loss. Miller decided to return for another season and unfortunately suffered a season ending injury in week two of the 2021 season. Miller has a chance to right-the-ship this season. I want to hear about his decision to return and the overall excitement to get back onto the field. A hot topic on the defensive side of the ball will be the run defense. The Gators graded poorly on run defense in 2021 but return one of their better run stoppers in Miller. Has defensive coordinator Patrick Toney placed an emphasis on stopping the run?
Billy Napier and the Gators aim to give us one more inside look at the team before fall camp begins on August 6th.