Napier: O’Cyrus Torrence returning to practice Monday

Oct 24, 2022 | 1 comment

(Photo courtesy Florida Sports Information)

Florida head coach Billy Napier as well as Tyreak Sapp and Anthony Richardson addressed the media on Monday to recap the bye week and look ahead to this weekend’s contest against No. 1 Georgia.

Here are the highlights.

Billy Napier

To begin with, Napier spoke of how the team spent the off-week

With Saturday off, able to get a little bit of prep last week to get out in front of a very important week this week, but certainly just mentally I think really good for everybody.

But players worked extremely hard last week. I think you’re kind of at that midpoint, and I think this time of year in the second half of the year really challenges all the self-discipline of each individual, each part of the organization, and I think the key here is that we continue to stay focused on what we know winning football looks like.

I think that’s what the open date uncovered for us, is that we understand where we’re at, why we have the results that we have, and what we need to do to improve there.

Florida has struggled defensively throughout the season, how much change can be made during the bye week.

I think we understand what the issues are. Throughout the year we’ve played really good at times, and then we’ve played very inconsistent at times.

I think the key here, is what are we looking for? We’re looking for all the things that we can control. We’re going to continue to focus on improvement.

I don’t want to make it more complicated than it is. It’s technical, and certainly, I don’t think it’s one specific thing. I think it’s a combination of a lot of areas, and certainly, our guys are working hard.

Napier was asked if he was shocked at how badly the defense has performed considering there is some NFL talent on that side of the ball

No, I think statistically there are a lot of areas where we need to improve. I don’t know what you want me to answer to that, but we’re right in the middle of it. There’s nobody that’s ignoring the problem.

I think we’ve got a group of people that really care about doing their job better, and that’s what they’re going to try to do.

There is still a wide disparity in the talent level of the two teams.

Yeah, I mean, I think we all understand that. I think there’s work to be done in a lot of different areas when you’re trying to put together a football team. But personnel is part of that. I think we all understand the value of acquiring really good players. And then having a culture and a development plan, once they do arrive, there’s lots of things that contribute to this game. So there’s no question the evaluation and the recruitment process is pretty well-documented, not only Georgia but a lot of the teams have done a really good job in those areas.

It pays off. We all understand that.

The common themes in Florida’s losses this year.

I mean, it’s the same things we talk about up here every week. I think turnover margin. Every week, right. I think turnover margin, explosive plays, minimizing negatives on the offense, conversion downs, red zone touchdowns, you know, covering kicks, creating game-changing plays in the return game. Football is football. I watched a bunch games this weekend. It’s the same game.

We know what winning football looks like. When we gotten beat this year, there is pretty evident — you guys write about it, why we got to beat. It’s not complicated.

Though he can’t be talked about by name, five-star cornerback Desmond Ricks reclassified from 2024 to 2023 over the weekend. Napier himself reclassified while he was in school but in the opposite direction.

It’s hard to believe that that’s the case, but I think there is a handful of players out there that are capable. I think about reclassifying the other way. I weighed 92 pounds, I’m getting ready to be a 9th grader. My dad said, hey, you’re going to have to stay back, big guy. So grew six inches and gained 50 pounds that year. I wouldn’t have played college football if I didn’t do it.

We live in a world now where they’re trying to go forward. I needed to go backwards.

Napier on what he learned from Kirby Smart while they were both on Nick Saban‘s staff at Alabama.

No, heck, I wouldn’t have been at Alabama if it wasn’t for Kirby. Our dads were high school coaches in Georgia. There was some familiarity there and certainly his influence on that with Coach Saban. He had a lot to do with me being there. I will always be thankful for that.

Kirby is a heck of a football coach, man. I think you think about what he’s done at going to good. I’m going back and evaluating kind of each year. Year seven, what was year one, two, three, four, five for him like? He’s done a fantastic job.

I told him that the first time I saw him at the SEC coach’s meeting. Had just won the national championship and it’s pretty well documented all that goes into that. So he’s done a — he is a competitor and certainly a ton of respect.

Napier on Anthony Richardson

No, I think he continues to grow. There is no doubt the comfort level with all the things that contribute to quarterback play, not only our system, but what the other side of the ball is doing, being able to speak that language. Just a ton of growth relative to where he’s at and the level he’s processing at.

So I think he still working hard on mastering what that process looks like Sunday to Saturday unwavering commitment to what’s required to play and win.

So that’s where he’s at. Seven games in and continues to get better.

Florida could be getting O’Cyrus Torrence back this week

I think we will, I’m pretty confident, get a handful of players back that maybe didn’t participate last week. Cy-Bo (phonetic) in particular will be in practice today. A handful of others that continue to improve. We’ll benefit from it for sure.

Florida is able to host prospects during the game this weekend.

I think the big thing here is that I think maybe for the first time this year the home team gets tickets maybe. You know, I think we’ve come to an agreement there. There is precedent for that. Maybe this game is the one that provides a precedent for neutral site, both teams to get tickets. Maybe that’s the case. There is no question that Game Day and in particular these type of games create recruiting opportunities.

So this environment, this experience for a player, can have a significant impact on a player’s decision. So I mean, I completely understand what Kirby is saying. Every other year he’s missing out on what he knows will be a fantastic venue and Game Day experience.

Napier on Kirby Smart

I mean, I think it that there is no shortcuts. I think that the same things I’ve said about where we are and what we need to do. It gives you good perspective about what’s required. It doesn’t happen overnight.

I think the key here is it’s one day at a time. Again, go back to what I said earlier. Don’t get discouraged by continuing to make good choices and decisions and create good habits and good systems in house. Keep going about it the right way. Make sure you’re sound in what you’re doing, one day at a time, one person at a time, and ultimately that’s what we’re doing.

Naper spoke on Kirby Smart‘s impact on his coaching career

Heck, wouldn’t be standing here today without him. I think that a number of people in the building that were on that staff, Burton Burns, Chris Rumph. We had a lot of people in the building that I had prior relationship with. I did not have a relationship with Coach Saban.

Kirby, we don’t know each other extensively, but because of our dads being coaches, seeing each other on the road, I mean, heck I was 29 or something like that.

Tyreak Sapp

Sapp on taking on the No. 1 team in the nation this weekend

Well, we view it as a great opportunity, a big opportunity because we know it’s a game that we’re going to all have to come together as a team and execute on all phases of the game.

We have to come together, especially as a defense, and we’re ready for the challenge. We know it’s going to be very, very challenging. We know they’re going to bring they lunchbox, and we are too, so we’re just very looking forward to that.

We’re going to work this week, work on everything we need to work on, dial up everything, make sure everything is crisp, everything is sound. Just looking forward to heading to Jacksonville on Saturday, going out there executing, and having fun playing ball.

Sapp on what he would like to see the Florida defense do better

Just 3rd down and affect the quarterback really. 3rd down and affecting the quarterback, taking some of the heat off our DBs, because our DBs over the past this season, they had off in coverage. Our linebackers as well have done an exceptional job.

I feel like we can just upfront as rushing four, I feel like we should affect — we can affect the quarterback more, just be more precise in our rushes and understand who we’re actually up against.

Sapp on Florida being a three-touchdown underdog to Georgia

It gets you — it riles up because you feel like it’s kind of disrespect because we both put in — not put in the same work, but we both put on our cleats the same and we understand that — we understand that, yes, this team we’ve got a chance, too.

We’ve always got to fight, the fight is punching these games, and just feel like we can just take over this game and just be successful in all phases if we just all come together and execute, and we understand that.

On Ventrell Miller

I call him “General.” He’s our center ground. He is going to make sure everybody is centered, make sure everybody is ready to play. He’s going to make sure you’re ready to go, and then he’s kind of like I call him he kind of like the Lebron Effect. He not only plays well himself, he affects everybody. Plays well on the field. He’s a very infectious guy.

I don’t care who you are, you step on the field with Fentrell, you’re most likely going to put your best foot forward because you understand that you are on the field with a guy that got you covered, and you’re going to feel comfortable playing with him.

Sapp on Stetson Bennett

Yes, very sharp guy, very sharp quarterback. I can see that he has a very well understanding of the game and he can be very, very dangerous for the defense all because in between the ears he can slice you up.

He’s an opportunistic guy, opportunistic guy with his legs, but he is dangerous with his legs, as well, and very opportunistic. Has a great arm, can sit back there and throw, even though being a short guy, even though being a shorter quarterback, he can sit back there and throw, so I just know he can be dangerous, but we’re going to find ways to affect him to get him off his game.

On what Florida can do to contain mobile quarterbacks

Just try to keep them more contained because as we’ve seen with Tennessee’s Hendon Hooker he can sit back there, he can tuck and run it. He’s not just a guy that can just take it and run, he’s very, very effective with the ball in his hands obviously in the open field, so just trying to contain those guys and get them on the ground as quickly as possible. Don’t let those QB runs or those scrambles out of the pocket, let those be explosive. We’ve got to contain them and not let them be explosive plays.

Anthony Richardson

On signing with Gatorade

Actually to break it down, I don’t even know how I got connected with those guys. I wasn’t worried about anything like that. They just told me we might have a deal, a smaller deal with Gatorade. I’m like, Gatorade? That’s crazy.

The difference between making his first college start last year against Georgia to facing them this year

I feel like I’ve made huge leaps of improvement. There’s still a ways to go. But just thinking about it, I was actually talking about it the other day, time does fly. Seemed like yesterday it was my first start against Georgia. I feel like we were doing pretty good until those last couple minutes of the game.

But I feel like I made improvements as a player, as a person, so I’m thankful that I even got the opportunity to start in that game. It was fun, just being on that field with my teammates. It was definitely a huge blessing. I was thankful for that.

Richardson on what it will take for Florida to upset No. 1 ranked Georgia

Just stay focused, keep the main thing the main thing. That’s doing your assignment, focusing on what you’ve got to do, and just focusing on the win.

Richardson found out during the press conference that Florida is a 22-point underdog to Georgia

22 points? I didn’t even hear about that until now. We haven’t really been thinking about being the underdog because we’ve pretty much been the underdog all season. A lot of people have been counting us out, doubting us. But that just comes with the territory.

We know what we have to do to get back to the top spot. We’re going to try to do that. We’re not necessarily thinking about being the underdog.

Everything Billy Napier, Anthony Richardson, and Tyreak Sapp had to say today can be seen HERE.

Never miss the latest news from Inside the Gators!

Join our free email list