Billy Napier
Gators quarterback Graham Mertz throws the ball in the football team's scrimmage on Tuesday. Photo courtesy of Brieanna Andrews.

Billy Napier Talks Gator Football After First Scrimmage of Spring

Billy Napier spoke to the press about players, practices and the team’s scrimmage on Tuesday.

Year Two in The Swamp

Napier described the struggles of settling in during year one.

“Year one’s a blender, man,” he said. “You have to hire a group, you have to get to know a new group, new players, new recruiting footprint, new investors, new leadership.”

But now that Napier and Co.’s sophomore campaign is here, he sounds settled in and ambitious. He displayed an optimistic outlook on year two in Gainesville.

He said that the team is in a better place eight practices in than they were last year. Napier continuously preached the importance of familiarity within the program, as everyone is settled in with one year under their belt. He used an analogy of a teacher progressing with his students to explain the dynamic of the program.


First Scrimmage of the Spring

Napier was pleased with what he saw in the first scrimmage on Tuesday, mentioning that it wasn’t one-sided and there was momentum in the game. He saw “a little bit of good and bad on both sides” and said the team isn’t quite game-ready yet.

The results at this point don’t matter to Napier nearly as much as the situational work. Fundamentals, communication and situational football are the three things he preached when speaking about the scrimmage.

New Coaches in Gainesville

Florida has made two major hires this offseason in Billy Gonzales and Austin Armstrong. Gonzales, the new wide receivers coach, has received rave reviews since returning to Gainesville. Napier said Gonzales is respected as a good man with high character and an expert at what he does on the field. He also mentioned Gonzales’ hard work in recruiting.

Armstrong, the new defensive coordinator hire from Southern Miss, has also garnered attention and excitement. Napier said Armstrong has “hit the ground running” and that the defense has improved. He mentioned the new combinations and schemes the defense is running, as it features multiple combinations of players, and said everyone is getting “quality work.”

Player Comments

Napier addressed a few newsworthy players, such as quarterback Graham Mertz. Napier has been pleased with the Wisconsin transfer thus far.

Napier also addressed Micah Mazzccua and his dramatic saga. After tweeting his intentions to transfer last week, Mazzccua deleted the tweet and will remain with the team. Unfortunately, his lingering shoulder injury will set him back a bit, according to Napier.

“It’s a tough dynamic,” Napier said. “A lot going on behind the scenes.”

Napier hopes Mazzccua can progress through rehab and practice with the team as quickly as possible.

Spring defensive standouts

Napier cited defenders Justus Boone, Antwaun Powell-Ryland Jr., Princely Umanmielen, Jason Marshall and Shemar James as players he’s seen really stand out on and off the field this spring. He also praised the younger guys on the defense, saying that they’ve already shown growth and are making a difference.

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