Billy Napier
Florida head coach Billy Napier speaks during NCAA college football Southeastern Conference Media Days, Wednesday, July 19, 2023, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

Billy Napier Takes Accountability for Loss, Looks Forward to Home Opener

Florida coach Billy Napier took accountability Monday f9r the Gators’ loss at Utah last Thursday and is looking forward to improvement Saturday against visiting McNeese State.

The Gators came into the game against then-No. 14 Utah as underdogs, but self-inflicted wounds played a large role in the team’s 24-11 downfall. Napier spoke about these issues and what is on the horizon for Florida in a weekly news conference Monday.

Napier on Accountability

After a loss that included many mistakes, Napier did not shy away from the issues. Florida accumulated nine penalties to Utah’s five throughout the game. Several of these penalties often led to extended drives and extra opportunities for the Utes.

One of the most damaging penalties came in the first quarter when the Gators got a third-down stop and forced Utah to punt. On the punt, Florida was penalized for having junior cornerback Jason Marshall Jr. and freshman wide receiver Eugene Wilson III on the field together for the return. Both players wear the No. 3 jersey, which is an infraction when both take the field at the same time.

Napier spoke about limiting these mistakes at his news conference.

He was quick to take accountability for these mental mistakes. He stressed that a big focus would be for everyone to make sure they do their job. He also stressed that players and he needed to take responsibility and hold themselves to their standard.

Team Identity

Something that really stood out about the Gators’ offensive game plan at Utah was the lack of rushing attempts. Heading into this season, Florida had some major question marks at quarterback, but many felt that the talented backfield duo of sophomore Travis Etienne and junior Montrell Johnson could help ease some of those uncertainties.

Etienne and Johnson combined for just 10 carries and 31 rushing yards in the game. This left Florida fans wondering why the two were not more involved  despite both coming off of a productive 2022 season.

Napier admitted part of shying away from the run game was due to the Gators playing from behind. He said that while the score was certainly a factor, the team definitely needs to be better about sticking with those two and keeping them in the game.

Napier also spoke about the Gators needing to have an overall more balanced approach to their offense.

Moving On

With Utah officially in the rearview mirror, Napier expressed how he was excited to return to The Swamp. Returning home could provide a much-needed spark for a team coming off of a tough first week that included a travel schedule disruption because of the threat of Hurricane Idalia.

Napier also spoke about how adversity can help show the true colors of an individual or team.

The Gators will take things week-by-week and will be looking to right the ship. Improvement in multiple areas remain to be seen this week against McNeese State, but the team is expected to win. Despite being favorites in this matchup, Florida will need to execute much better.

“This week for us is about improvement,” Napier said. “We have to compete each day like we’re playing the best competition we are playing this year.”

About Austin Stirling

Austin Stirling is a third-year journalism major with a sports media focus. He is aspiring for a career in sports media writing, production or sports content creation. Contact him at austinstirlingg@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @austinstirlingg

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