Gators Spring
FILE - Florida head coach Billy Napier, right, watches players warm up before an NCAA college football game against Eastern Washington, Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022, in Gainesville, Fla. A person familiar with the situation says Florida quarterback recruit Jaden Rashada requested a release from his national letter of intent Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023 after a $13 million name, imagine and likeness deal fell through.(AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack, File)

‘It’s Going To Require Our Best’ In Game Vs. Georgia, UF’s Napier says

Florida is “going to have to earn everything” if it’s to challenge top-ranked Georgia on Saturday in Jacksonville, Gators coach Billy Napier said in his weekly news conference Monday.

Saturday’s game is scheduled for a 3:30 p.m. start on CBS. ESPN 98.1-FM/850-AM WRUF will also have coverage.

Bye Week

Napier described last week’s open date as a good physical and mental break. In their last two games, the Gators (5-2, 3-1 SEC) squeaked out a win against the Gamecocks and beat Vanderbilt 38-14. However, they lost against Kentucky and Utah, two teams that are ranked in the AP poll. The bye week allowed the team to recover from hits they’ve taken in previous games.

It also forces them to think about the challenges ahead. After Georgia, three out of the four games remaining in the season will be against ranked opponents. So, while the break has allowed the Gators to prepare for the Bulldogs, it also gives them time to get in the right headspace for the rest of the season. The season won’t get easier after Georgia.

Facing Georgia

Georgia (7-0, 4-0) is the best in the nation. Only one of the Bulldogs’ games has been close, beating Auburn 27-20. In five of their seven games, they put up more than 35 points.

Georgia’s defense has 12 sacks on the season and 232 tackles. It has done a fairly good job of forcing third-and-longs, forcing teams to throw the ball more often. Because the Bulldogs have minimized the number of penalties they’ve received on defense, they have kept their offense on the field.

The Gators’ Gameplan

Napier’s plan for Georgia involves giving QB Graham Mertz opportunities and taking advantage of the absence of Brock Bowers, the Bulldogs’ dominant tight end. He had a lot of praise for the abilities of Mertz, saying that when the offense plays well, Mertz has the ability to shine.

Bowers was ruled out for the game after rolling his ankle in the Bulldogs’ game against Vanderbilt. He will undergo ankle surgery, Georgia announced today. Napier had high praise for the tight end.

“This is not only one of the best players in America this year, last year. This is one of the best players of all time.”

He also spoke about the neutral site in Jacksonville:

Notes:  The Nov. 4 home game against Arkansas is set for a noon kickoff and airing on ESPN2. Last week, the Gators Ticket Office announced that the game has been sold-out.

About Liana Handler

Liana Handler is a sophmore at the University of Florida, studying sports journalism.

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