After first loss, Napier to take a long look in the mirror

Sep 11, 2022 | 1 comment

(Photo courtesy Florida Sports Information)

Head coach Billy Napier faced the media following No. 12 Florida’s 26-16 loss at the hands of No. 20 Kentucky. He was followed by quarterback Anthony Richardson and defensive lineman Gervon Dexter Sr. as they took their turns on the podium.

Here are the main takeaways:

Billy Napier

  • Coach Napier was calm and collected as he walked into a press conference filled with silence. Napier’s opening remarks compared tonight’s Gators’ players to students, Kentucky being their big lesson, Napier being their disappointed teacher. But instead of pointing out what his players could’ve done better, Napier began the presser with a look inwards. “Coaching is a lot like teaching, when students don’t perform as well as you want them to, you have to take a long look in the mirror.”
  • Questions of back padding and premature coronations for Anthony Richardson following his performance against Utah left Napier having to answer for his young quarterback after yet another night without a passing touchdown. “No one is his own worst critic than Anthony,” Napier added “Anthony can do things better, but that starts with me.”
  • Napier shouldered the blame admitting that it ultimately came down to “flat out execution.” While Kentucky defended well, said Napier, it was up to the Gators to take the game and run with it. “We gave them a pick-six, we gave them a short field after an interception, two touchdowns in the game. It’s hard to win when you do that.”
  • The 26 points that the Wildcats put up were not indicative of how good the Gator defense played according to Napier. “You think about two short fields, one pick-six, the other interception where we tackled them at the six.” A huge defensive stand that ended in a missed field goal for Kentucky late in the fourth quarter was the culmination of a defensive effort unbacked by the Florida offense. Napier recognized Co-Defensive Coordinator Patrick Toney and an amped defense that nearly put the Gators back in the game. “Had some critical red zone stops, forced field goals, created some negatives, affected the quarterback. Really, I thought we improved in a lot of different areas. I thought they did a fantastic job.”
  • On Richardson’s rollercoaster this past week: “He’s a young player, that’s his second start in the Swamp in his entire life. I think that’s the great thing about experience, this guy started this season with very minimal experience. How many lessons has this guy learned in actual game settings when the game counted? I think he’s going through that.”
  • Napier closed with special praise for Trevor Etienne’s performances so far as he identified the true freshman as someone to look out for. “Trevor is a good young player. Trevor’s got great vision, great instincts. I think he’s loose; he can make people miss, he’s low to the ground. He’s out there playing as a rookie.” Napier praised Etienne’s play tonight calling him a mature member of the rotation adding that there are some areas in Etienne’s game that can be improved.

Gervon Dexter Sr.

  • Dexter was the proud owner of perhaps the best play from the Gators Saturday night. Pressure and breakup from Brenton Cox Jr. saw a wobbling ball land in the hands of Dexter for a huge turnover. “Brenton Cox made a great play on the ball. I saw the ball and got it.”
  • Dexter praised the defensive coaching in Patrick Toney’s calls. “We just executed what coach ‘PT’ called and it went well for us.” Dexter added that the defensive line’s identity is established snap-by-snap with an emphasis on wanting to assert themselves over the opposing line. “We just want to be dominant in the whole game no matter if it’s pass or run. We just want to play dominant.”
  • Over 17 minutes of Kentucky possession in the second half did not seem to face Dexter as he added that the defense did not feel any fatigue during their extensive outings on the field. “I don’t feel like there was any fatigue, I think they had the ball a little longer. Like I said, coach Napier is going to see what we did wrong and we’re going to fix it.”
  • Dexter added that Will Levis is a “pretty good player.” But praise fell right back to coach Toney for calling a really good game against the Wildcats quarterback according to Dexter.
  • Dexter praised the young defensive players that stepped up in Chris McClellan, Shemar James and Devin Moore as he noted their maturity and commitment to the team. “Coach put them out there. So, they felt comfortable with those young guys, and they played pretty well.”
  • Ventrell Miller left the game after a lower leg injury, a huge absence for the Gators that left them without a leader said Dexter. “Ventrell is like a quarterback on defense, he’s very vocal. So, it’s kind of hard to play without a guy like that. He’s like the heart of the defense in my opinion. He communicates well, he does a lot well. So, that’s like losing your heart.”
  • Dexter finished by saying that the team will not be phased by the loss though it is hard to lose an SEC matchup. “A good thing that I feel about the changes in this team from last year to this year is that we’re pretty focused on our goal.” Dexter added that the hype throughout the week did not play a part in Saturday’s loss, rather the end goal is what fuels the Gators forward. “I don’t think we were worried about that kind of stuff anyway (the AP poll rankings); we were already focused on the goal we had in mind. I think we’re still focused on our goal at the end of the year.”

Anthony Richardson

  • “I just have to play better.” The opening words from Anthony Richardson set the tone for what was a picture of maturity in handling what was one of his worst performances for the Gators. “I feel like I let everybody down, especially the defense.”
  • Coach Napier had spoken earlier of Richardson’s commitment to not just the offense, but the team. A point that Anthony drove home as he gave the press insight into his disappointment. “I looked everybody on defense in the eyes and told them I got them and that I was going to go score points for them, obviously I didn’t.”
  • Richardson continued to take the media through his night on the field and his thought process after the fact. “I turned the ball over twice, three times. I feel like I have to play better for the team and for the university.”
  • Richardson added that the street of expectation went both ways as he understands what is expected of him and knows what he expects of himself, but it was his confidence that crashed according to Richardson. “I missed a couple of wide-open throws, so my confidence got shot. I affected my receivers, clearly.”
  • On his two interceptions: “First one, I thought I could get around him. I didn’t want to throw over the top because I knew he was a long player. So, I tried to sidearm it and he just made a great play. Second one, it was a flashback to the Georgia game. Same thing, I just threw it right to the dude.”
  • Richardson admitted that Kentucky’s adjustments in the second half didn’t result in much of a difference. According to Richardson, his confidence dwindled with each snap and ultimately affected his performance. “At times I did try to push it a little bit, try to aim it so I could complete some stuff. I guess that affected my game as well,”
  • Richardson finished by saying that he felt as though it was his responsibility to face the media although he did not necessarily have to. “Just let everyone know what’s going on. We lost and I feel like it’s completely on me. I feel like it’s on me. I played terrible. Didn’t do anything that would help my team. I tried to lead but I don’t feel like I did that pretty well tonight. I take full responsibility of the loss.”


WCC: Updates on everything Billy Napier, Gervon Dexter Sr. and Anthony Richardson had to say can be seen HERE.

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