Florida Gators Head Football Coach Billy Napier stepped up to the mic on Monday as the countdown to the season opener continues. In his regular season debut, Napier will lead the Gators into a sold-out Swamp on Saturday as the Gators take on the No. 7 Utah Utes.
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Napier said he is excited for his first game at the steering wheel of the Florida Gators. Despite his years of experience as a college football coach, he said the nerves and jitters will still be there.
He said he looks forward to the sold-out season-opener and encouraged fans to arrive early because their energy can make a difference.
“Being game week, really look forward to our fans showing up,” he said. “We all understand Gainesville transforms on gameday, and I’m certainly excited about experiencing that for the first time.”
Napier wasn’t shy about admitting he is going to take the time to experience the environment. He said that he took the job for experiences like these and will take the time to live in the moment at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.
“I don’t think I’m ever going to be beyond that,” Napier said. “I think as a competitor, football, in particular, you work the entire year and only get so many opportunities to compete.”
Preparing for Utah
When it comes to preparing for the seventh-ranked team in the nation, Napier said the process started long before this game week.
“Preparation is the key to confidence,” he said.
The team ran mock Fridays in the spring to simulate game weeks. Napier said the team stayed in hotels, had team meals, did Gator Walk and ran through unit warmups to ensure that all the players are comfortable when gameday comes around.
Napier even told reporters his wife has been asking him questions about game preparation, but ensured everyone he had all the answers.
Now, the goal is to make sure everyone knows the ins and outs, especially the quarterbacks.
“I think that’s an important piece, the quarterback and the play-caller being on the same page,” Napier said. “The benefit for me is I’m in the room with that guy in a game week.”
He said everyone is empowered to give input and ownership within their area of expertise.
Despite the result of Saturday’s game, Napier said there will always be room to improve.
“Everything we do can improve, regardless of the outcome,” he said. “Might get a great outcome. Might get a bad outcome. Each part of what we do can improve independent of the result.”
Florida opens the week as a 2.5-point underdog against the Utes with kickoff scheduled for 7 p.m.