Napier: Did enough to win

Sep 18, 2022 | 1 comment


(Photo courtesy Florida Sports Information)


Despite being 23.5-point favorites, No. 18 Florida struggled mightily but pulled out a 31-28 win over unranked USF. Head coach Billy Napier, cornerback Jalen Kimber, running back Montrell Johnson and quarterback Anthony Richardson met with the media to discuss the win.

Here are the main takeaways:

Billy Napier

  • Despite the struggle, Napier was proud of how his team performed. “I’m proud of the team and the fight that they showed. This is a group that has shown they’re going to stick together and they’re going to fight through adversity and they’re going to have each other’s back and do enough on offense, defense and special teams.” All three games for Florida this season were decided in the fourth quarter with both wins decided on the final drive.
  • Anthony Richardson struggled in Saturday’s game by throwing two interceptions, including one on the goal line in a fade route to Justin Shorter. Napier said that it was an option play where if the box is loaded, the quarterback can decide to throw it. Napier said he had no issues with the decision to throw but was disappointed with the execution. Additionally, Richardson looked like he was hobbling and limping throughout the game, but Napier said he does not know of any issues for his quarterback.
  • Napier was asked about the trajectory of his program this season after squeaking by an opponent that many believed Florida would dominate. Napier was blunt and truthful with his response. “I don’t think you can get caught up into that,” Napier said. “I don’t care who they played, or who we played, the Gators played South Florida tonight and we did enough to win.” Napier explained that USF was well-coached and executed their game plan. He concluded his response saying that no one is going to pat his team on the back, and they have plenty of work to do.
  • Starting linebacker Ventrell Miller missed Saturday’s game with an injury, and it was noticeable. “I don’t think you replace Ventrell Miller,” Napier said. “His leadership, ability to communicate and his production.” On the night, the Bulls rushed for 286 yards and three touchdowns.

Jalen Kimber

  • This was Kimber’s first media availability since transferring to Florida, and he gave some insight into why he chose the Gators. “It’s been like the best place for me. In the portal, I just looked at my options, and I already had a relationship with Corey Raymond. So, I felt like that was the best option for me,” he explained. Kimber transferred to Florida after two seasons of limited playing time at Georgia.
  • Kimber made his presence known in the second quarter with a pick-six, the first interception of his career and the first Gator pick-six since 2018. “I seen Coach PT really called the best call he could possibly call on that play, and I read it, got the ball and I just scored.” Kimber added that he’s obviously happy with the play, but the team still has a lot of work to do.
  • For the first three games, Kimber wore a cast on his left arm which has limited his abilities. He explained that he hurt his hand prior to the Utah game and that surgery was on the table, but he didn’t want to miss any games and decided to keep playing.
  • Despite a dominant rushing attack by USF, Florida virtually shut down their passing attack by only allowing 116 yards and intercepting two passes. “No, I wasn’t too much surprised,” Kimber said about USF’s gameplan from watching film, “we don’t take any team lightly, but we’ve just got to understand what’s ahead of us, and keep working honestly.”

Montrell Johnson

  • Once again, Johnson had a solid night on the ground, this time with a season-high 103 yards on only six attempts, which included a 62-yard touchdown run. Johnson said that the original play call was a play-action pass that Richardson checked at the line into a run. Johnson’s touchdown was not only his second of the season, but the longest by a Gator since Richardson’s 80-yard run versus the Bulls last season.
  • Although Florida won the game, Johnson explained that the mood in the locker room felt like the team had lost. He said that he was really surprised that USF was able to keep it close, but that the team wasn’t overconfident. “Some of the mistakes we need to improve on is the passing game,” Johnson said. “Just getting those passes that change the game, ultimately.” Even with the sluggish performance, Johnson explained that Florida deserved to win the game.
  • All three of Florida’s main backs (Johnson, Trevor Etienne and Nay’Quan Wright) found the endzone tonight as the Gators rushed for 217 yards, including Richardson’s totals. Even though he had the hot hand tonight, Johnson explained that he doesn’t mind splitting carries saying that it keeps the backs fresh.

Anthony Richardson

  • For the second-straight game, Richardson threw for zero touchdown passes and two interceptions, including one on the goal line. Echoing what Napier said, he explained that the call was originally a run with a pass-option that he checked to. He said that he saw Shorter one-on-one and trusted him, but he didn’t give him a chance to make a play.
  • Despite a negative check at the line that resulted in an interception, Richardson made another check at the line that resulted in Johnson’s 62-yard touchdown run. He explained that these decisions are a result of him still growing within Napier’s playbook and reading defenses. This growth comes with obvious growing pains, but he’s working through them.
  • With a struggling night passing, Florida’s run-game shined and led the offense. “It definitely saved us,” Richardson said. With the miscues and mistakes in the passing game, Richardson gave the offensive line and running backs credit for the win.
  • Despite a rough night passing, Richardson originally played efficiently in the first half going 7-for-9 and 75 yards. However, his struggles began almost immediately when the second half began as he went 3-for-9 with 37 yards and two interceptions. Richardson said that USF didn’t really change anything in the second half and that the issues had to do with him trusting the routes and progressions.

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WCC: Updates on everything Billy Napier, Jalen Kimber. Montrell Johnson, and Anthony Richardson had to say can be seen HERE.

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