Billy Napier
New Gators Football head coach Billy Napier speaks at a press conference when he was first introduced in Gainesville. Napier will hope to improve on the Gators 6-7 record from a year ago. Credit: CBS Sports College Football

Gators Set to Open Season Against Utah

Saturday, the Gators open their 2022 football season hosting the No. 7 Utah Utes at 7 p.m. The teams last faced off back in 1977 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium where the Gators beat the Utes 38-29. Forty five years later, the Utes are back in Gainesville ready to play in front of a sold out crowd.

Utes Look for Another Winning Season

Coming off its first Pac-12 championship, the Utes look to Saturday to get their first win of the season. In the last 15 years, Utah has only lost two season opening games.

Major highlights of the 2021 season for Utah came from beating No. 3 Oregon in the regular season and the Pac-12 Championship.  Their season came to end in the Rose Bowl, falling 48-45 to No. 6 Ohio State. The Utes ended the season 10-4.

Of the 22 starters from the 2021 team, 17 return. Utah’s 2021 offensive line ranked fourth nationally for only allowing 0.93 sacks per game, while Florida allowed 1.07 sacks per game.

The offense racked up an average of 431.1 yards per game and their defense allowed 343.9 per game.

Gators Hope to Turn Things Around

After going 6-7 last season, the Gators are looking to new head coach Billy Napier to shape them back into championship contenders.

During the game, Florida will be led by team captains Gervon Dexter Sr., Anthony Richardson, Ventrell Miller and Nay’Quan WrightRichardson is returning as quarterback and Saturday marks his second career start under center.

Coming off a season with a 59.4 completion percentage, Richardson totaled nine touchdowns. Six came in the air while three were on the ground.

The Gators’ offense averaged 462.8 yards per game and the defense gave up 367.8 per game in 2021.

To prepare for the matchup, Napier and the team drew up plays and watched film to work around Utah’s defense.

Napier believes the way the team executes will determine the game, and they need to work on not letting distractions get in their way of winning.

About Molly Cooper

Molly is a fourth-year journalism major specializing in sports and media and working on a certificate in sports management at the University of Florida.

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