What Billy Napier said about play calling and more after Florida’s 33-14 loss to Kentucky

by | Sep 30, 2023 | 1 comment

Ray Davis

The Gators were no match for an undefeated Kentucky team as they fall 33-14 and were dominated in every facet of the game. Here’s what head coach Billy Napier had to say on the loss.

Opening statement… 

“Not a lot of positive to talk about today. Hats off to Kentucky and Coach Stoops. They were ready to play. They flat-out beat us. They were the more physical team. They controlled the line of scrimmage, the edges of the formations. They protected their quarterback. We did not win the line of scrimmage or the edges, and they effected our quarterback. We had a handful of penalties obviously, that were a factor. The early turnover was a factor. And then just fundamentally, very disappointed in our team. I told the players, I know one way to do this and that is to take complete ownership of it. I think for me, personally, as a leader, I have to do a better job for our team. In all ways. Ultimately, that’s my job. Is to have our football team ready to play. And I’m going to take ownership of that, because I know what we’re capable of. I do believe that we had a good week. I do believe that we were in the right frame of mind. But when the ball got put down, we didn’t execute. We weren’t physically ready and certainly, the way the game went early, it got out of hand. We did our best to try to fight and get back in it, but hats off to Kentucky. All parts of the game, they were more effective. I haven’t looked at the stat sheet yet, but I imagine that’s exactly what it says. Kentucky deserved to win today. The Gators did not. That’s my responsibility. I think we’ll be able to evaluate things technically a little bit more and talk with you on Monday, but overall, we’ve got work to do to improve. One thing I do really believe in, is I believe in that group of kinds in there. I think they want to have success. I think they’ve done a lot of quality work. And I do think that these types of experiences present opportunity, and I’m very hopeful there will be some good things to come of this. But, we’ve got to take a good look in the mirror from an overall operation here and do a better job for the players. I’m sure the players will see things that they can do better as well.” 

On whether the team was ready to play… 

“I do think that we had a good week. I think that they beat us up pretty good. Anytime a team rushes for 300-plus and they hold you to under 100, ultimately, that’s where the game was won today. Line of scrimmage, edges, tackling, fundamentals, we misfit some runs, and then we were unable to do that on offense.”


On the special teams penalty turning a three-and-out into a 75-yard touchdown… 

“It’s disappointing, because we had a similar situation in last week’s game. We covered it thoroughly throughout the week. We actually sent a play in from last week’s game to the SEC, talked about the exact rule, how it’s interpreted, showed the clip in the meeting. I think we just got a young player out there who made a poor decision, and he knows he made a mistake. I do think that that was a pivotal moment in the game. I think you’re spot on. It’s still a close game. We’re off the field. We’re going to get it at midfield. We’re going to get it on the short field for probably the first time the whole day. And then we put them back out there and they ended up getting a touchdown off that possession. So, no question. 100 percent a huge play in the game.” 

On whether the team’s physicality compared to Kentucky… 

“Anybody that knows me, knows that that game right there is going to be hard on me. Just in terms of who I want to be. The brand of football that I want to play. So, I think you’re exactly right. And look, I respect it. I respect it. I think you’re spot on.” 

On whether the players got gassed early… 

“No, I think it will be very fundamental. I think we understand exactly what happened. We’ve got to strike blockers. We’ve got to play with better eye discipline. We’ve got to fit our gaps. And when given an opportunity, we need to get the runner on the ground. There were numerous times throughout the day where we did not do that. We played better defense, much like I have told you before, the challenges are ahead. Today is a good example of that. Good slice of humble pie. Ultimately, we’ve got to play with better urgency. We’ve got to strike blockers, we’ve got to fit runs and when given an opportunity, we got to get the runner on the ground. 300-plus on the ground. That’s not who we are. That’s not who we want to be. We’re going to get it fixed.” 

On the pace of play in the fourth… 

“The sack was a big play. We’re kind of getting it on a long field. We get a first down, then we get it out there kind of into 20-30 range, and then it’s P-and-10 play, seven-man protection, and we give us a sack. And really, the challenging thing about that is, from an analytics standpoint, it was a go-for-it, all-go situation, so the last thing you want to do is have a negative play. So, you’re spot on. It’s a two-score game for a lot of the second half to some degree. I think once the game became about time, we played with more tempo and urgency, but I think it was three scores at that point.”

On the offensive play calling… 

“I remember them all. I think between possessions, we know what happened. I think sometimes, you’ve got to remain objective. No different than how we evaluate everything we do. What caused the issues in the game? Sometimes it may be design. Sometimes it’s communication. Sometimes it’s undisciplined penalties. Sometimes it’s fundamentals and techniques. I think there’s lots of things that contribute when you don’t have success in this game. We’ve got a great group of people that work hard to do that and we certainly weren’t good enough today.”

On being too conservative with play calling…

“Yeah, I think all of those things are, look, I think let’s just go back to the first third down of the game. We called an outside zone that popped for a first down on third and long. So, when they work they pat you on the back. When they don’t work they criticize you. What we have to do is we have to do our job for the players. That’s what’s important to me. It’s important to me that we do our best for the players and the staff. When you don’t have success you deserve criticism. We deserve every bit of criticism that we’re going to get for this game. That’s part of it. My responsibility is to the players and to the staff. Ultimately, that’s what I think about.”

On criticism of play calling…

“I think there’s always good and bad. Some of it is well deserved. Some of it, you know, maybe they don’t quite know what they’re talking about. I think it’s probably a mixed bag.”

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1 Comment

  1. John Kent

    My suggestions to Coach Napier.
    Stop running between the tackles against a loaded box.
    Hire a dedicated OC with D1 experience so that you can concentrate on the TEAM.
    For the love of God, hire a dedicated Special Teams coach.
    Other than that keep doing what you are doing, I think you have a good plan.


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