During his post-game press conference on Saturday night, Billy Napier showed the most emotion I’ve seen from him since he started at the University of Florida. Today, he was all business.
“When we evaluate the game Saturday, we were very fortunate to win the game,” Napier said. “Very pleased with the intangibles of the team. We showed some mental toughness. I thought we showed some togetherness. We stuck together throughout the adversity of the game. We continued to respond in critical moments in really every phase of the game, both sides of the ball,”
Napier is proud of the way this team handled adversity and found a way to win.
The good thing that I observed is the chemistry and morale of the team,” Napier said. “Together this is a team, right? We stuck together — ups, downs, we responded. I think that’s probably the compliment I would give the team. They played hard in the game. Like anybody that watched that film or watched that game on TV would say, hey, the Gators played hard, man. They competed. That’s what I’m proud of.”
“This group’s got some fight to them, and I think we’re making progress when it comes to the human element,” Napier said. “I think we’re getting somewhere there.”
Napier was pleased with the Gators’ efficiency in the red zone on both sides of the ball.
“When you look at the numbers and the statistics relative to the game, the game came down to red zone effectiveness,” Napier said. “We scored four touchdowns on offense, and I think they scored two touchdowns, or two field goals and four opportunities. So, two turnovers, two forced field goals ultimately could be the difference in the game.”
Napier believes the offensive line played winning football on Saturday, led by O’Cyrus Torrence.
“I think that’s one of the areas where we played the way we want to play,” Napier said. “That’s kind of who we want to be. That’s the brand of football we played in the past. We invest in that area. We have two offensive line coaches. We put a premium on line of scrimmage play. That’s a developmental position.”
“O’Cyrus (Torrence), he rose to the occasion. We always felt that O’Cyrus was one of the better players out there, and he showed it,” Napier said. “He was one of our players of the game. And I think that his comfort with the system, his comfort with the routine, I think that rubs off on that group a little bit.”
Although Napier was pleased with the offensive line and some intangibles on Saturday night, he’s not afraid to admit that the Gators have a lot to work on.
“The great thing is the effort was there, the physicality was there, the toughness was there, the passion. I thought the chemistry and morale of the team was good. I thought we saw some leadership emerge. But overall, lots of areas on our team where we need to improve,” Napier said.
“The film is sloppy, just so we’re all on the same page,” Napier said. “I know we’re ready to put the crown on the Gators, but the Gators got a lot of work to do to play at our expectation and our standard.”
I think I speak for most Gator fans when I say this was refreshing to hear. Napier praised the Gators for their ability to compete but admitted there’s plenty to work on.
Napier believes his team is aware that they can play better.
“I think we’ve got a little bit of the best of both worlds here. I think we’ve got some momentum. But we also have a team that is very self-aware. I think we’ve got a smart group. I think they understand good football. They watched the tape. They know that they can do better,” Napier said.
One player in particular that Napier mentioned being self-aware during his post-game press conference was Anthony Richardson.
“The one thing I can tell you about Anthony [Richardson] is that he is sitting in that locker room right now and he is thinking about, probably, the six or eight plays that he could have done a little bit better,” Napier said. “That’s what I love about him. He is very critical of himself. He is an unbelievable competitor.”
Napier and the Gators have shifted their focus to Kentucky.
“Our level of detail in how we prepare and how we play needs to improve,” Napier said. “And I really believe we will see some improvement week 1 to week 2. I’m hopeful that we’ll see that.”
“A lot of good, a lot of bad, some ugly. We’ve got work to do here,” Napier said. “But it’s good to be 1-0. We’re excited about getting back and starting SEC play here.”
Napier isn’t going to let his players get too high, or too low. Napier was enjoying that win just as much as the players were Saturday night. It’s all business for the Florida Gators entering Kentucky game week.
The Florida Gators are set to take on the Kentucky Wildcats this Saturday at 7pm EST on ESPN.