The Florida Gators’ annual Orange and Blue game is back this year.
First-year head coach Billy Napier and his group will take the field in front of their loyal for the first time during the Napier-era.
The intra-squad scrimmage kicks off in The Swamp on Thursday at 7:30.
This year, the Orange and Blue game – under Napier – will be returning to a four 15-minute quarters format. This is in contrast to the 12-minute quarters played previously.
There will also be a 15-minute halftime.
The game will be played with a running clock, outside of the following exceptions:
- The final four minutes of each quarter
- Changes of Possession
The two teams, put together by random, have split into separate practice units leading up to the event in spirit of competition.
Kelly Rae Finley, coming off an NCAA tournament appearance in her first season as the Gators women’s basketball coach, will be the honorary captain for the Orange team.
First-year head coach of the Gators men’s basketball team, Todd Golden, will hold the same position for Blue.
Despite the inevitability of players overtly avoiding anything that could risk injury, don’t scoff at the two groups’ will to win. Friendly competition always seeps its way through the seams of games like this, especially it comes to close-knit groups of guys.
Sometimes pride is the only thing needed to be on the line for top-tier entertainment.
The Orange team, captained by Finley, features two guys who will undoubtedly be focus-points for the Florida defense this season in Brenton Cox Jr. (1) and Trey Dean III (0). As returning gators, they’ll look to start their time under Napier the right way – holding back a powerful Blue team offense.
Fenley Graham Jr. (39) is another name to keep an eye on Thursday night for the Orange squad. He played in the secondary of the Gators defense last season as a redshirt freshman. Now, as a sophomore, he’ll be making his UF-debut on the offensive side of the ball. He’s listed at WR on the Orange roster.
The name that pops out immediately is that of who will be Napier’s starting quarterback this 2022-2023 season: Anthony Richardson.
Thursday evening will be Gators fans’ first-look at the redshirt-sophomore since his 5-7, one TD performance in the 24-21 win over FSU back in November. He was cleared to resume practice close to a month ago, after undergoing offseason knee surgery. He should be good to go for the game, as there have been no indications otherwise.
Other names to keep an eye on throughout the Blue roster include WR Xzavier Henderson (3), as well as RBs Lorenzo Linguard (21) and Montrell Johnson (2).
It’s expected that Henderson will be WR1 this coming season for the Gators. His demeaner in the leadership-role will be something to watch when he takes the field.
Linguard has had a monster training camp, and is challenging the known-commodity Nay-Quan Wright to start. All the while, transfer Montrell Johnson appears to be a nice goal-line weapon in his own right.
The offense from those in blue will be on display.
What to Expect
It is going to be pure entertainment for the UF-loyal, as this event has been for as long as it’s history stretches back.
The Orange and Blue game returning is on its lonesome reason enough for the excitement in the air of Gainesville.
The game returning with a new format, under a new head coach, containing new and exciting pieces at multiple positions – including a number of highly-recruited transfers – in addition to the return of some of the most exciting players from the previous season – well, it won’t be something people are going to want to miss to say the least.
Apparently, the fans are in fact ready.