Shorter: ‘The culture here has changed drastically’

Sep 12, 2022 | 1 comment

(Photo courtesy Florida Sports Information)

Billy Napier faced the media on Monday as the head coach of a No. 18 Gators team following a home loss to Kentucky. Wide receiver Justin Shorter and offensive lineman Richard Gouriage followed on the podium.

Here are the main takeaways:

Billy Napier

  • Before taking any questions, coach Napier started the presser with his usual update and mission statement for the coming week. “When you’re presented with challenges and adversity in life, I think that there’s an opportunity, and it’s important that we operate in truth, that we keep it technical.”
  • Napier kept the responsibility of improvement on the staff. To Napier, if the staff does their job correctly, so too will the players in a “family” system that proves as the main selling point of Napier’s Gators. “I challenged the staff to let’s do our best work for the players, the level of detail that we can offer the players throughout the week — meetings, walk-throughs, and practice — and try to position in better place as we approach Saturday.”
  • Praise for South Florida’s Jeff Scott came early in anticipation of Saturday’s game. Napier, who worked with Scott in their time at Clemson, praised the Bulls’ coach in his ability to turn around a struggling South Florida program. “Jeff’s growing that program up, and certainly you can see it on the film,” Napier added He’s got a great offensive mind. He’s very organized, very much a CEO, got a good business mind, and a guy that I think is one of the bright young coaches in the game.”
  • Florida will have met their transfer portal match in USF team highlighted by Napier. “They’ve got some really good players. I think there’s probably 15 transfers in the two deep to go along with a lot of really good returning players here. So, there will be a lot of challenges that come with playing South Florida.”
  • The first question of the day saw Napier give insight into the relationship he has fostered with Anthony Richardson. What has become a master-apprentice dynamic seemed to falter at Kentucky. But to Napier, the loss offered an opportunity for growth in the young quarterback. “He has an opportunity. You know, he had one on Sunday. I told him, look, get up Sunday morning, pick the pen up, and write a great page in the chapter of this part of your life and this part of your career.”
  • Napier spoke of “earning the right to win” after Saturday’s game, telling the media that he would have more answers come Monday after watching film. “Well, I think it’s about kind of our formula to win. What’s worked for us in the past, right? The top of that list is own the ball, attack the ball.”
  • Napier added that turnovers and inefficiency in the offense ultimately cost the Gators what would’ve been a defining win. “Had to kick a couple of field goals in the fringe so the four-point play red zone part of the field we weren’t very efficient, so we didn’t do enough on offense to win the game.” While the defensive line took top praise: “I thought Gervon (Dexter Sr.) in particular really was significantly better in the game. When I say that, I’m talking about alignment, discipline, and fundamentals. Across the board there we were much improved.”
  • Ultimately for Napier, the goal is to focus on improving weekly. Anthony Richardson is still young and learning, a truth that Napier’s staff recognizes and works with. “Everybody can do better. There’re certain players who played better than others, and they know who they are. What I see is all very correctible.”

Justin Shorter

  • Shorter was asked of his quarterback’s confidence on Saturday after Richardson admitted to being “shaken up.” Congruent with Napier’s response to the young quarterback’s struggles, Shorter offered the press patience in Richardson’s development. “I would definitely say confidence is built in repetition, so I’d say in practice, you know, going out there every day and really giving it your all in practice even though we did lose last week.”
  • Shorter praised his in-house opposition in making him a better player. Iron sharpens iron and the same can be said for Richardson’s improvement in practice according to Shorter. “I get to go up against Jason Marshall every single day at practice and Devin Moore. They make me ten times better, 50 times better. So, it’s just really taking it rep by rep and just going as hard as you possibly can.”
  • Moore or “Mr. Patient,” as Shorter calls him, has made his impact on the young Gators core that has risen under Napier. “We go one-on-ones every day, going out there seven-on-seven, and I’m just so thankful I’m able to go up against DBs to that caliber because it just makes me honestly better.”
  • Engrained into the players, Napier’s family approach makes the Gators cohesive and therefore effective according to Shorter. For Shorter, it’s about correcting mistakes at practice and staying positive as a unit. “That’s a big thing, because teams can lose games and just go down in the hole, but you can also lose and come back next week and be 50 times better. It’s just one loss. There’s a lot of championship teams with one loss, so we’re just going to come back next week and try to put up huge numbers and really win.”
  • Trevor Etienne gives the Gators a character in the locker room and an x-factor on the field according to Shorter who says that Etienne made an impact on the team from day one. “He is a different character. He’s a different, different person. I would say, definitely, when he first got here for workouts over the summer, just watching him run and really seeing how he cuts and stuff like that, I was like, okay, this is going to be special.”
  • Ricky Pearsall has made a difference in the receiving room according to Shorter. A transfer out of Arizona State, Pearsall has brought in a work ethic that has rubbed off on the Gators. A hunger to get better in a facility that welcomes student-athletes with open arms. “I would say definitely the culture here has changed drastically. I feel like now you can go down to the indoor facility. I was just down there. I think I saw eight guys down there, linemen, running backs running, doing drills, linemen snapping balls, kids over there catching jugs.”

Richard Gouraige

  • After exploding for 283 yards on the ground against Utah, much was expected of a Gators team in a loaded run-heavy offense. 140 yards less and a loss against Kentucky left many questioning the productivity of the run game. To Gouraige it came down to simple mistakes. “Watching the film, we knew that there’s some mistakes we could have definitely tweaked up and minor issues we can address. This week is a new week to get better and work on the little things.”
  • Gouraige believes that the team has changed and bought into Napier’s system. One of the responsibilities for the Gators is that of support, helping each other up. According to Gouraige, they’ve done just that for their young star Anthony Richardson. “To be honest with you, it’s all part of life. I understand that Anthony has a lot of pressure, and it sucks that a lot of people put a lot of pressure on him.”
  • Gouraige added that it has been a short time coming for Richardson who showed early signs of greatness with the welcome of a new regime to Florida. “I seen it since January since the staff came in, buying into the system, believing Coach Napier, he’ll put him in a great position. I knew from the beginning that he was going to have good strides this year, and I seen it in the summer how he holds guys accountable, hold himself accountable.”


WCC: Updates on everything Billy Napier, Justin Shorter. and Richard Gouraige had to say can be seen HERE.

Suggested Articles

Never miss the latest news from Inside the Gators!

Join our free email list