Graham Mertz was named starting quarterback for the 2023 Florida Gators last week after the first scrimmage of fall camp. Mertz took to the podium and has glowing reviews of Billy Napier’s offense and how he fits within the scheme. Here’s what the Wisconsin transfer had to say since being named the Florida Gators starting quarterback.
Mertz’ reaction to Napier naming him starting QB
“The first thing I told him is that it’s an honor and a blessing and I’m going to treat it as such. Like I said earlier about the history, you know what this program has been, who has come through here. It’s my duty to respect that and honor that every day.
The first thing I thought of was that it’s an honor and a blessing and you’ve gotta treat it as such. You’ve got to walk with that every single day. It was exciting but you get right back into the heat of fall camp. We’ve got work we need to do.”
Falling in love with UF in just a short time
“It doesn’t feel like a job. It doesn’t feel like work. You genuinely love it. I think I can comfortably say with every ounce of my being that I love it. I’m so grateful for this university and my time here. It’s been a short time but everybody that I’ve talked to, whether that’s support staff, coaching staff, players, janitors, everybody here, they love Florida. I can gladly say that I love Florida too.”
Loving Billy Napier’s offense
“I love this offense, man. All the ins and outs of this, all the checks, you really need to know what you’re doing and what you’re seeing. It frees you up to just go play the game.
You’ve got to know what every single person on the field’s doing every single play. I love it because it’s… how do we set this offense and this team up for success? You have that in your hands every single play. So whether that’s front adjustments, back alignments, defensive structures, we always have an answer. That’s one thing I truly love about this offense is there’s always an answer.
You think about Coach Napier, all these coaches, they have seen the pitfalls of different concepts and stuff like that, so they know it works. They do a great job of educating us on, okay, how do you make it work every single play? Obviously you’re going to have plays that don’t go your way, but it’s how do you minimize those and capitalize on the ones you know what you’ve got in front of you, and you know how to capitalize on it. I 100 percent love this offense.”
“He understands. Like I wish you guys could sit into a quarterback meeting and just hear how he installs. It’s so detailed. He knows the pitfalls of every play. He’s seen it. He can recall a play from five years ago and just pop it up on the board. ‘This is what I saw. This is why it works.’ As a quarterback, that’s why it’s really helpful in your learning process because we keep he’s seen it all and he understands it, he’s played the position. He knows what throws are a little bit hard, what throws are a little bit easier and he designs the offense in that way to kind of free you up and go play.”
Mertz’s growth in the system
“I came in in the winter and just kind of got the kitchen sink thrown at me. Really wanted to learn fast, but in this game, the only way to truly learn is to take reps. Everybody, Coach Napier always harps on it, this is a rep-based organization. I took that to the heart, and I was like you know what, I’m going to try to find as many reps as I can, whether that’s watching film in here, in the room, practice. So for me, I’d say winter was really understanding what this offense is about.
Spring was okay, let’s transfer that knowledge. And then I think for me this summer was a big stride, just being able to kind of run these player-led OTAs with the guys, take that ownership of knowing what every single guy on the field is doing it that time. I’d say this summer was a big stride for not only myself but the entire offense.”
Difference in the Florida offense compared to Wisconsin’s
“I think you think about control. In an offense as a quarterback, there’s a lot of different ways to derive that. I think at Wisconsin, it was more of a game management, trying to get us a lot of run-kill, run checks and here it’s so much fun, and it’s fun to make those checks. We spend so much time harping on it, taking walkthrough reps. It’s really fun when you can you when you know how to attack defense.”