Napier: Today was a big step in the right direction for Richardson

Nov 5, 2022 | 1 comment

(Photo courtesy Florida Sports Information)

Florida head coach Billy Napier as well as quarterback Anthony Richardson and linebacker Ventrell Miller addressed the media after Florida’s 41-24 victory over Texas A&M. They spoke of the second half defensive turnaround, big plays from Richardson, and more.

Billy Napier

On the improvements to the third-down defense

“Again, I go back to what I mentioned earlier. I don’t think it’s about the play call. I don’t think it’s about the fundamentals. I think it’s about what’s going on between the ears. I think it’s about the relationships in the room. It’s about being committed to the people around you and playing the game with those intentions. And I think that early-kick, we stumbled out of the blocks. Obviously, we all watched it. There’s nothing to be proud of about it. But ultimately, when adversity is presented to you, it gives you an opportunity to prove what you’re made of. It gives you a chance to refine and develop your character, and I think that’s what we saw. It’s good to see players lead. And I think that’s a part of our team that we’re developing. We took a step in the right direction in that regard today.”

On Anthony Richardson’s dual-threat performance

“I told Anthony there late in the game – I think Anthony’s going to play this game for a long time – I think he’ll look back and this will be one of those days that he will say was kind of a pivotal day. I think just playing with confidence, thought he started fast. Really thorough in his prep during the week. He’s a 20-year-old, first-year starter in a new system. And I think, again, I really believe Anthony’s problems aren’t physical. It’s about development. It’s about getting comfortable in a role. Being a leader, being vocal. Improving as a communicator. Playing as a competitor and playing for your teammates. Taking yours and beating theirs. I just really think today was a big step in the right direction for him.”

On the leadership on defense today

Ventrell [Miller] obviously is the alpha. I see Gervon Dexter, I see Antwaun Powell, I see Rashad Torrence. There’s a lot of young players that I see taking ownership… I think that we’re making progress, is what I would say.”

On Antwaun Powell-Ryland Jr.’s performance

“Antwaun has been in the rotation. He’s played. He’s deserving. Antwaun’s a good football player. He’s been productive when given opportunities in the past. Sometimes, you don’t know until that opportunity’s presented to you. One thing I know about AP is that it means something to him to do his job for the other players. Great to see him step up and do big things that impacted the game today.”

On the call on Richardson’s 60-yard touchdown run

“It’s actually a zone read, where the right end is bypassing the blocker. They were over-adjusting to the quick motions in the back-end. Zone read away from that, you gotta pull and off to the races.”

On the ground game, specifically Montrell Johnson Jr. and Trevor Etienne

“I think it’s a strength of our team. I think you’re starting to see a little bit of that identity that we want to have. Our team’s played that way in the past. We want to be a physical team. We want to win the line of scrimmage, play well on the edges. A cumulative effect to how we play. I think Anthony’s legs, the design today, I think gave us a little bit of an extra advantage. And certainly, we threw it around enough to keep them off-balance. You know, Anthony made some critical plays. [Ja’Quavion] Fraziars steps up to the plate today. Huge plays of the game. Ricky [Pearsall] continues to be a very productive player. I thought that a lot of guys stepped up today.”

Anthony Richardson

On the win

“Definitely felt good for us. Just winning in general, that’s always a blessing for us. SEC win for us, that’s also a blessing. Getting us back in a grove. A road win against a tough opponent, it just allows us to come out here and play football and see where we are at. We are feeling good, and we are excited.”

On talks with Coach Napier

“We definitely talk in between drives, especially at the end of the game there. It’s a conversation and he told me this is going to help me in the future. All week, I’ve just been working on my leadership, just trying to hold guys together, just keep the team pushing. Allowing us to come out there and play fast and strong. [Napier] told me that this is going to be a turning point of my career and my life. I kind of see that because I think I am getting better with my leadership. That’s how I’m keeping cool.”

On being a leader

“It’s a challenge trying to be a leader. Sometimes you got to fight through those challenges and try to grow. As a leader, I haven’t always been the type of guy to communicate a lot. I just try to lead by example and just show guys how to do things. But I see that that’s not the only way you can be a leader. You can lead by example and then communicate with guys and connect with them. It makes a lot easier for you to lead people.”

On making plays on the ground and in the air

“It feels good. I’ve always been able to run the ball and pass the ball. Just coming out today and being successful with those things feels pretty good for us.”

On not turning the ball over

“It feels great. What I’ve been doing is just doing my job. Just trusting everybody else and trusting them to do their job. It feels great for me because coach [Napier], he hates turnovers. I’m pretty sure we all do. He harps on it all the time. Just to see him smiling about it, it makes us feel good.”

Ventrell Miller

On the turnaround in the second half

“I think it had to do with the halftime speech from some of the coaches and players. We started off flat-footed and just taking ownership of that. It got the boys motivated in the second half, and everyone came out and did their job, and we showed them how the Florida Gators defense could play.”

On the halftime speech

“It was a little bit of tough love, like let’s go, it’s still a game and we aren’t playing like how we are supposed to play. We told them to shut it out, and the boys stood on that, so I’m definitely proud of those boys.”

On the halftime adjustments

“Not really too many adjustments went in. It was more of an effort thing. Guys making plays when it’s time to make a play, and having that mindset of let’s go, like it’s the game lets go.”

On the group tackling

“In the second half, we told everyone to fly around to the ball. Missed tackles don’t show up when everyone is flying to the ball, so that was definitely something that was going on in the second half.”

On guys stepping up

“We definitely had guys step up. Antwaun [Powell-Ryland Jr.], Lloyd [Summerall III], both of them got sacks and caused a fumble. They knew what was on the line, and I’m proud of how they stepped up.”

Never miss the latest news from Inside the Gators!

Join our free email list