Billy Napier previews matchup against LSU

by | Nov 9, 2023 | 0 comments

Billy Napier LSU

The Florida Gators are preparing for a fierce matchup against the LSU Tigers, scheduled for 7:30 PM ET this Saturday in Baton Rouge. During his press conference, Florida head coach Billy Napier discusses the key factors that may influence this crucial game for the Gators.


Opening statement:

“Derek Jeter’s a pretty accomplished competitor, probably one of the more respected athletes in our lifetime. I was talking to the team, this guy is an all-time great for the Yankees, a first-ballot Hall of Famer, five-time World Series champion. He talked a lot about his routine. The guy played 20 years of Major League Baseball and says his biggest fear in life was being unprepared. He spent 20 years refining his routine, what it was like to prepare to play the season and once the season was there. That routine was consistent through good times, bad times, success or failure. He always felt like he was in that process of getting ready to play. It’s all discipline to do that. Baseball, you play a million games. I think our guys can learn from that. Good day of work today. I continue to be impressed with his group in terms of continuing to show up. Attitude, energy, still working to get better, still pursuing playing a complete game. That’s been our focus.”

Return to Louisiana:

“My wife is actually not going to go to the game. She’s going to go visit from friends in Lafayette, kids’ friends and that type of stuff – watch the game over there. It’s four years, man. The place was good to me. Acadiana is unique culture and people there. It’s one of the reasons we stayed there a while. Good place.”

The challenge of playing at LSU:

“I played there a handful of times and it’s awesome. That’s one of the things about this place and this league, you get to go play in some of the iconic places, places you dreamed of competing in. You grew up your entire life watching games on TV in those venues and to go get a chance to go do it is pretty special.”

The duo of LSU WRs Malik Nabers and Brian Thomas:

“I think it’s more than just those two. I think the other players – Lacy’s a good player, obviously the tight end (Mason Taylor). The backs are big and heavy and tough to tackle. Then the quarterback not only is a great passer, but the ability to escape, extend and then the read game. I think if you go look at the stats here this is a pretty accomplished group. The two receivers are lights out, but Lacy, the tight end, the backs … and how many rushing yards does Jayden have? No other quarterback has contributed that many rushing yards to the team. Not to mention how many times has he been sacked? There’s a benefit to having an athlete at the position and this guy he’s pretty special.”

Potential shootouts coming up with the last three games:

“I think so. I think we’ve played fairly good in the SEC games, for the most part outside of, I thought Georgia we did a lot of good things we just didn’t finish. I think we have the ability to move the ball and create points. I think some of our skill players are growing up and I think some of these guys who had minimal experience before the year are getting better. Whether it’s Tre or Boardingham or Hansen or the linemen. I think some of those guys are getting better. We still have our issues but we’ve played more efficient, more consistently. Saturday, this past Saturday, we’re five or six away from lighting it up pretty good. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done in the past. It’s a weekly event. You gotta go earn it. This is a complete, independent contest and matchup, different variables, different personnel. Ok, go do it.”

Mannie Nunnery:

“Yeah, no, having players that can finish on the quarterback, especially guys that are athletes is a big deal. When you rush you’ve gotta rush as a unit. The coverage and the rush have to work together. Mannie is a player that is capable of finishing on the quarterback and I think the more of those you have, the better. Especially on passing downs, third down in particular. Look, you’re in a catch 22. Do you match, do you play man-match and turn your back to the guy? If he does get lost he can make you pay. Or do you have vision on the guy and it’s a challenge in itself? The skill combined with the mobility of the quarterback.”

Getting Tyreak Sapp and Cam Jackson back:

“Yeah, no, both of those guys have obviously been in the rotation. They give us a little more depth. Sapp, in particular, has got some experience. Cam’s played a lot of football in his career. A few players out there that it’s their first time, I think that’s good for the Gators. The play count doesn’t really get up there. The pace isn’t over the top. Those are guys that just veteran football players that do a good job for the team.”

Building back confidence on defense:

“Yeah, I think I can remember telling you guys that there was bigger challenges coming. So, you know, I think that playing well at all levels of the defense is important. I can’t emphasize that enough. This is a game that requires 11 players to be on the same page. I think some of our issues have been just that, that one player, maybe a mental error, poor fundamentals, techniques, poor leverage poor eye discipline. Some of which is, you know, growing pains, young players. But also, look, we’ve got to coach better and play better, right? So, it all matters. I don’t think it’s one thing, you can’t point to one thing. You know, outside of getting 11 on the field, we can point to that. We can figure that out. But defensively, I think there’s been a number of variables that contribute to us having issues at times.”

Defending LSU’s offense:

“Yeah, you’re picking your poison to some degree. You know, it’s all matchups, right? And you try to create scenarios where you’ve got the advantage, you know, you get the pen last. Then they’ve got a really good system, and they do a good job utilizing their personnel. So, you know, this is pure as football gets. You know, it’s like playing in the National Football League to some degree because of the matchups involved. The number of good players that are out there to go along with the quarterback. So, without talking about the game plan as a whole, I think it’s gonna be a challenge. We know that. But I’m excited about what I see. And we look forward to it.”

Controlling possession against the Tigers:

“Possessions will be important. You know, I wouldn’t say it’s like playing Tennessee from a tempo perspective, but ultimately just from a production and opportunity standpoint, there’s an element of that. You know, I think when you’ve got the ball and their offense is on the sideline, that’s a good thing. So, but ultimately, you’ve got to keep up with them. I mean, I think that’s the number one challenge. So we’ve got a plan, we’re gonna put the ball down and go play. Much like you talked about earlier, right? Edgar mentioned the shootout, are we capable? And then obviously, what you’re talking about is shortening the game.”

Playing a lot of young players:

“Yeah, no, I think what I’m encouraged by is what I observe every day. I mean, I see a group that is standing in there, going punch for punch, you know, and I think they’ve got some resolve. Again, this group has camaraderie. Hell, we got down 14 to nothing out there and you would have thought nothing’s changed. I mean, they just kept playing. Not only within the units but across — I think we’ve done a good job, the staff did a good job of building, you know, morale is good. And I think sometimes when you go through tough things, and maybe you get criticized, that kind of galvanizes the team a little bit, to some degree. This group’s got character. We don’t have, I mean, I ain’t seen a guy blink relative to, you know, complaining or pointing the finger or whatever the case may be. So, sometimes I think that’s what I’m most encouraged by. Sure, experience is important. You know, I think players make the biggest jump between year one and year two, significant experience. We’ve just gotten good leadership and the distractions that we do have, our player-level ownership, they attack it and it’s done. So that’s what I’m encouraged by. And look, we’ve got work to do. I mean, there’s no doubt about that. And we’re right in the middle of that.”

On freshmen on defense wearing down physically:

“You know, I was thinking about that the other day. You know, if you think about it, we talk a lot about the NFL relative to the draft prep. And I do think for a midyear player, that grind of the first college semester. And look, they get a couple weeks off in May, but the summer is a grind, training camp’s a grind and here we go in the season. So, maybe there’s an element of that. I really believe it’s the simple things. It’s the same game we’ve been playing for a long time. You gotta communicate, you gotta get aligned correctly, you gotta have good eye discipline, you gotta play with fundamentals. And ultimately when put in position to make a play, you gotta make a play. A lot of times in this game if one or two are not doing what they’re supposed to do, you can get exposed. So, continuity, veteran teams that have played together, reps in the system, that’s how you build a really good football team. So, I think it’s a great point and one that I hadn’t really thought about, but maybe there is something to that. I don’t see that, to be quite honest. I think they like what they do and they’re enjoying it.”

Recruiting Harold Perkins:

“Perkins, he’s an impressive athlete, man. This guy, I can still remember grading him at Louisiana. We kind of evaluated all the players in that six and a half hour radius. He had an E to the right of his name for Elite. So, Perk was a heck of a running back too. People don’t realize that. He did a really good job last year, they played him on the edge. He’s had to play a number of roles on their teams this year because of the injuries they’ve had. So, you gotta know where he’s at. And certainly third down in particular, he can be a problem. So, he’s not only twitchy and has great play speed, but he really has play strength and he’s instinctive. He sees the ball well. He’s definitely one of the challenges when you go against their defense for sure.”

Losing Jack Pyburn to injury:

“Jack, man, he’s already back to work. Heck, you get 15 minutes for the players to tape and dress and then you go get a little workout in in the weight room and he’s already in there. He’s got a brace on. He’s in there working with the strength staff. Jack is the ultimate example. The discipline, the work ethic, his approach, his intensity, he’s a great teammate, he’s smart, he’s got perspective. So yeah, it’s tough. Those are the ones, that guy. I’m gonna tell you, he’ll set records in his return, I’m betting. If you’re going to bet on a guy, he’ll attack it. He’s a pretty special competitor. So, he’ll come back better than ever. Injuries are hard. I do think once they get through it and have a little bit of perspective, they appreciate being healthy, being able to play. And you develop some toughness and some discipline by going through that surgery and rehab process.”

The opportunity for Kelby Collins:

“Sapp is back, so Kelby, Kam James. Kam James probably played more snaps and I think both of those guys do good things. And look, when you’re a young player and you’re playing on the line of scrimmage, that’s different than if you’re playing safety or receiver. So, I think there’s an element of that for guys like those two guys, Searcy, Jaden Robinson. When you’re a line of scrimmage player and you’re a true freshman, you’re pretty talented if you’re capable of doing that. So, I think those guys are. And look, they’re going to be really good for the Gators in the future.”

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