Nov 18, 2023; Columbia, Missouri, USA; Florida Gators head coach Billy Napier on the sidelines against the Missouri Tigers during the second half at Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium. [Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports]

Napier Talks FSU, Mertz and Recruiting

It’s going to be a back-up QB battle on Saturday when the Florida Gators face FSU for the annual head-to-head matchup. Both Graham Mertz and Jordan Travis will be out for the game. But, Head Coach Billy Napier talked about his confidence in the team and how the result might impact recruiting.

Preparing for FSU

When Napier discussed how the team is preparing for their upcoming game, he didn’t spend much time describing how much the game meant to the players. However, it’s clear that the Gators are hungry for a win. FSU is the only opportunity they have left for them to strike. FSU has been electric all season, ranking No. 4 in the nation. That was before Travis was carted off the field after being injured in the game against North Alabama.

Napier expressed his belief in Max Brown, the redshirt-freshman quarterback who took over for Mertz in the Missouri game. He also mentioned how there were lessons that can be taken from the games against LSU and Missouri. He said they need to decrease their number of penalties and improve the defense. Part of the problem is inexperience as the Gators’ roster is composed of freshman like Eugene Wilson III and Jordan Castell.

Despite the Gators’ losses, Napier emphasized accountability and focusing on what individual players can to make the team better:

New QB

Brown has played in three games this season. He threw one interception and was only sacked once. He has an 83.3% completion percentage which is due to both his lack of play time and his ability to make sure the ball gets into players’ hands. Saturday was his first time playing against a ranked opponent, and he only had five attempts.

And, for anyone worried about what will happen to Mertz, Napier said:

The Impact of the End of the Season

One effect of Saturday’s game will be the future of recruiting. If Florida can win, they become bowl eligible and have a better chance at retaining a solid recruiting class, making the future for Florida a bit brighter.

Despite these challenges, Napier expressed confidence as he discussed how the freshman year squad has connections with the recruiting class, and he talked more about the Gators’ approach to recruits.

About Liana Handler

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

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