Gouriage could return for another season

Nov 9, 2022 | 1 comment

(Photo courtesy Florida Sports Information)

On Wednesday, Florida Gators head football coach Billy Napier, linebacker Amari Burney and offensive lineman Richard Gouraige met with the media to preview the team’s Senior Day against South Carolina on Saturday.

Here are the main takeaways:

Billy Napier

  • With the Gators playing their final home game of the season on Saturday, 18 seniors will be honored as a part of the team’s Senior Day festivities. This has been a really good group. Some of these guys in particular have been really impactful in a lot of different ways – through their example, through their words,” Napier said of his first senior class. He added that they’ve shown resilience with their adjustment to a new staff, even if it is part of the game.
  • Although the passing game has been very hit or miss for Florida throughout the year, the offense has placed an emphasis on receivers blocking out in the perimeter, which Napier said is extremely important. “But no question if you’re going to play receiver here, you’re going to block. It’s just a part of the job,” he explained. “If you don’t want to block, you can come stand by me.”
  • With the depth chart and injury report being released, Napier updated the status of two of his receivers. Justin Shorter, who missed last weekend’s game, said he’s been practicing with a modified workload, but he’s still questionable. Ja’Quavion Fraziars, who replaced Shorter, is out for Saturday’s game with a significant shoulder injury, according to Napier.
  • With Shorter’s status up in the air and Fraziars out, the opportunity has arrived for two of the younger receivers in the room. “You’re going to see (Marcus) Burke more. Caleb Douglas obviously,” Napier said. “We’re going to get our best players on the field. The depth chart kind of reflects who will kind of have an opportunity.” 
  • Napier has not hidden the fact that he’s not afraid to play any player, no matter the age or class. “If you have the right attitude and approach, you’re always learning. I always have believed that the most improvement in player’s career comes after the first year of significant time,” Napier explained.
  • Not only will Saturday’s game be the final time the team takes the field in The Swamp, it will also be the last time Florida can host a recruiting weekend on a game week, which Napier said will be difficult with Tropical Storm Nicole forcing high school playoff games to be rescheduled. “So, but there’s no question we’re hustling to get them here, it’s our last opportunity,” he explained. “I think we’ve got, we’re hopeful we’ll have a good group there. Certainly, it being a sellout, it has a chance to be a really special game.”

Amari Burney

  • A member of Dan Mullen’s first recruiting class, Burney participated in Senior Day last season against Florida State, but he said that he already decided by that point he would be returning for a final season.
  • Now as Burney has no eligibility left after this season, Saturday will officially be his final game in the Swamp. He admitted the emotions will be very high. “I’m not the type of person to cry but I’m just going to feel some type of way just knowing that this is my last game in The Swamp,” he said.
  • Burney also revealed that his favorite moment as a Gator on the field was his interception against Utah and his favorite moment off the field was the postgame celebration after the Utah win, but he wouldn’t reveal why. “After the Utah game we went out and had a little fun,” he said. “I can’t tell you what we did, but we got turnt up a little bit.” 
  • The opposing quarterback on Saturday is Spencer Rattler, who defeated Florida in the Cotton Bowl two seasons ago as the starting quarterback for Oklahoma. “We were really joking about that, we never thought we were going to see him again, and he transferred to South Carolina, so we get a chance at him again so I mean we’ve been joking about it, really like, just saying like, we owe him one,” Burney said. He added that the key to stopping Rattler will be keeping him in the pocket.
  • Two more of Florida’s Senior Day participants on defense are Ventrell Miller and Trey Dean III, who like Burney, are out of eligibility after this season. Burney explained the bond between the three. “The bond is very, very strong. I mean we can joke with each other, we can yell at each other, we can cuss at each other, we can fight with each other but at the end of the day, we know that we’ve always got to be for each other,” he explained.
  • Although Burney won’t be at Florida for the rest of the Napier era, he believes the program is in good hands going forward. “I tell Coach Napier and Coach PT (Patrick Toney), I wish I had y’all for four years, I’m not even gonna lie to you,” he said. “I tell Shemar (James) every day you are in the greatest hands you could be in at the University of Florida right now.” He added that the seniors bought more than anyone else when the coaches arrived, which trickled down to the younger players.

Richard Gouraige

  • A redshirt junior, Gouraige will be one of the 18 seniors participating in the Senior Day festivities. He took the time to reminisce on when he first arrived in Gainesville. “I had just first walked on the campus, building this relationship with my brothers through the offseasons, through everything. It means a lot,” he said. “This is probably gonna be one of my last games playing for Florida, and I just want to go out there and cherish every moment with my brothers.”
  • Florida’s offensive line has been one of the best in the country, leading the way for Anthony Richardson, Montrell Johnson and Trevor Etienne to shine on the ground. That dominance was no stranger against Texas A&M as the Gators rushed for 291 yards and three touchdowns. “That’s what you’re in the SEC for, man. You just run the ball down down people’s throat a little bit,” Gouraige said. “There’s nothing better than knowing that your guy on the left or right are doing their jobs as full speed as they can and execute their blocks.” Gouraige added that this dedication to being a great offensive line started in January and described the results of their labor as “relieving.”
  • Although he will be participating as a senior, Gouraige hinted that his college career may not be over. “I’m still at the part of which route to go. I just want to focus on this game and let the game take care of itself,” he said. “I’ll figure everything out at the end of the season.” With a degree earned in the spring, Gouraige has plenty of options between the NFL, graduate transferring or remaining in Gainesville.
  • One of the surprising stars on the Gator offensive line this season is redshirt freshman Austin Barber, who stepped in when Michael Tarquin went down with an injury early in the season and has since split time at both tackle spots with Tarquin and Gouraige. “Barber, he’s like my little brother. I always pull him aside and try to be that big brother, put him under my wing as much as I can,” Gouraige explained of their relationship. “Just teach him little things that I wish the older guys taught me when I was here and all that.” Gouraige further explained he wants to set the standard for the younger guys on the team in the same way Jawaan Taylor and Martez Ivey did for him as a freshman.
  • As Gouraige looks at the future of the Florida football program, he believes the program is in great hands with the new staff. “(The staff) impact us on and off the field. Just teaching us life,” he said. “… There’s nothing more you can really ask for.” He added that all coaches are available for all players, no matter the position group, which he appreciates. He went on to explain that the guest speakers the coaches have brought in have made an impact as well, teaching them to play for their teammates and treat every play like it’s their last.

Everything Billy Napier, Amari Burney, and Richard Gouraige had to say today can be seen HERE.

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