The Gators focus on discipline is starting to show

 The day has finally arrived, the Florida Gators have reported for fall camp. Football season is officially underway in Gainesville. The Gators coaching staff and select players met with the media to discuss the upcoming season. I was thoroughly impressed with the Gators that spoke today. The common theme of the day was discipline. There was clearly an effort made by Billy Napier and this staff to improve this team’s discipline from last season. Napier came in and put his foot down, and the players respected that. 

Gervon Dexter is one player that was a part of last year’s team. Dexter talks about the differences under Napier. 

“I think Coach Billy Napier has rubbed off on the team in mainly just his leadership role and teaching each individual how to be a leader in their own way,” Dexter said. 

“Discipline has been one of his biggest things,” Dexter said. “Everybody going the right way doing the same thing, everybody doing their job and not focusing on outside stuff.” 

“I think that was one of the biggest things that needed to be changed with him coming in,” Dexter said. “Changing that has made a huge difference on us already”. 

Dexter said the transition was new for everyone, even the way the team dresses. 

“Coach Napier said we’re all outside in white socks, you won’t see a blue sock out there,” Dexter said. 

“Coach Napier is a big guy on everybody looking the same, everybody doing the same,” Dexter said. “Just all the little things as far as jumping offsides or extra activity after the plays and just big stuff like that. He came in letting us know that’s not going to happen, or consequences.”

“You’ll see a family out there,” Dexter said. “It won’t be an individual this or that. It’ll be, like I said, all the guys going the same way.”

Billy Napier discusses what it takes to improve discipline, the attention to detail, and building a stronger team. 

“It all matters,” Napier said. “I think the key is that you provide structure and routine, that you define expectations for the players.” 

“There are some detailed things we ask them to do, and they do matter, but the most important part of those little detailed things that we ask them to do is they have to make a decision to do it,” Napier said. 

“It’s an opportunity to say yes to the expectations and the standards and for everyone to buy into the team concept,” Napier said. “Individual players don’t make a great team. I think that we have a lot of really good individual players on our roster, but if you are going to have an exceptional team, then there’s got to be a certain level of detail and discipline on the roster and a buy-in.”

Offensive lineman O’Cyrus Torrence said that Napier’s calm demeanor, attention to detail, and doing things the right way has led to a change in the team’s discipline. 

“It helps us be more disciplined in the game because in the beginning of the spring that was the problem a little bit was discipline, with us and not beating ourselves,” Torrence said.  

“I feel like his ways of doing it and his personalities, his traits that he does show, it rubs off on us and it helps us become a more disciplined team, better and together,” Torrence said. 

 Strength and Conditioning Coach Mark Hocke spoke highly of coach Napier and his ability to force these players to pay attention to detail. 

“How you do anything is how you do everything,” Hocke said. “Coach Napier has some of those little things installed to force the player to kind of think, am I going to do it the team’s way? And really that’s what it comes down to. You got to get out of yourself, into the team, and be coachable and do what’s being asked of you.”

Hocke gave us a Mike Tyson quote on discipline. “You got to do things you hate to do like you love doing it.”

They come here to play football. They don’t always come here to do the conditioning, running, the sprints, the heavy lifting, waking up really early. They don’t have a problem waking up and playing in front of 90,000 on Saturday night, but what about at 6 a.m. on Monday morning after the weekend, that’s a little bit different waking up for that,” Hocke said. “But it’s doing what you don’t necessarily love to do like you love it. And that’s what I can say about this team. They’re learning to love it.”

The offensive line is one position group that’s going to need to be extremely disciplined if the Gators want to be successful this year. Rob Sale on the discipline on the offensive line. 

“We came a long ways since the spring. What was in the past is in the past,” Sale said. “We’re going to put ‘em in the spots we need ‘em to be.” 

“They have done everything Coach Stapleton and I asked ‘em to do when it comes to discipline and taking the coaching, coach me mentality,” Sale said. “I’ve been pleased with the group, so I expect good things, and we’re going to play well.”

Coach Sean Spencer spoke a lot about consistency and how they use it to improve the team’s discipline. 

“When you first come into a program, you got to establish the discipline,” Spencer said. “You have to be consistent with what you talk about and what you’re expecting them to do.”

“You got to hold them to a standard and if they don’t do it, if they don’t do what you ask ‘em to do, there’s got to be a consequence,” Spencer said. The consequence has got to be one such that they don’t want to mess up again.”

Spencer believes you need to stay consistent with the consequences as well. 

“What you want to do is you want to make them try to not want to let their teammate down by failing discipline,” Spencer said. “I think that peer pressure is one of the tougher things that we can do. I seen it in the NFL. I think it at other levels. So that’s how we try to stay consistent with that.”

Consistency with the vision of the program also impacts discipline. 

“We have the same vision. Coach Napier has a vision. All the assistants see the vision, and then the players see the vision,” Spencer said. 

Spencer says there’s an expectation set every single day that the players must meet. 

“I’m going to tell them that they can’t match my intensity every day. So I’m expecting those guys to have a certain intensity, so I have to bring it every day,” Spencer said. 

“The bar is set high, and we are going to reach that goal,” Spencer said. There’s nothing in between. And like we talked about discipline, there can’t be wavering. There’s a standard set by coach Napier and that’s where we want to take it.”

Defensive Coordinator Patrick Toney says that accountability impacts discipline. 

“I think the buy-in has been really good. Obviously, that starts with the veterans buying in and holding themselves accountable, as well as their teammates,” Toney said. 

“Discipline has been a major factor for us. We want to eliminate undisciplined penalties on defense,” Toney said.  That will also help us win football games.”

Billy Napier has everyone on board with his plan. Everyone seemed to push the same narrative, that discipline is what makes a football program succeed.  It isn’t easy to convince a locker room this quickly, but it certainly appears that Napier has gained the respect from his players and staff. The consistency throughout the interviews today stood out to me the most. Everything is calculated and organized with Napier and this staff. 

The Florida Gators first practice of fall camp is on August 3rd. 


Nick Marcinko
Nick is a recent graduate from the University of Florida with a degree in Telecommunications. He is passionate about all sports but specifically baseball and football. Nick interned at Inside the Gators and worked part time with Knights247 before joining the Gator Country family. Nick enjoys spending his free time golfing and at the beach.