Gators football spring practice is nearing its end with the Orange and Blue game approaching on April 13. This is Billy Napier’s second offseason with the Gators and fans are placing pressure on him to bounce back from an underwhelming first season. The game is set to have numerous recruits in attendance, and it will give Gator fans their first look at transfer quarterback Graham Mertz.
Embracing New Additions
One of the main differences this season is the acquisition of new defensive coordinator Austin Armstrong. Although Armstrong is young, he is looked upon as one of the bright minds in college football and has already earned the respect of his players, including linebacker Scooby Williams.
— Florida Gators Football (@GatorsFB) April 5, 2023
Undoubtedly, the Gators put a lot of emphasis on the transfer portal this offseason. The team brought in its anticipated starting quarterback and some key players to replace those leaving for the NFL and to the portal. Depth is a factor the staff is harping on and one of the biggest things Napier looked at was players who have experience and can start immediately.
The Orange and Blue game won’t be a clear indication as to how the upcoming season will go. However, it will serve as a measure of the spring camp that was enforced by the staff. Fans will have the opportunity to see unfamiliar faces compete for a starting position in the fall.
A key starting battle is at the quarterback position. Mertz and Jack Miller III are the top candidates to hold the starting spot against Utah in Week 1. They are having impressive performances with their young receiving core and feel confident throwing behind a monstrous offensive line.
Florida will open the 2023-24 campaign with arguably one of their toughest tests of the season. They will face Utah in Salt Lake City for a Thursday night kickoff. Although the Gators upset the Utes last season, this game won’t be played in The Swamp. Rather, they’ll travel to Salt Lake City and play in front of a crowd wanting revenge.
Certainly, this game can potentially dictate the course of Florida’s season. If they’re able to pull off another upset victory, they may build the momentum to win against some tougher SEC opponents.