(Photo courtesy Florida Sports Information)
Ahead of this weekend’s game in Nashville against the Commodores, Gators head coach Billy Napier – in addition to safety Rashad Torrence ll and defensive lineman Desmond Watson — addressed the media to give a look ahead and discuss the current state of the team.
Here are the highlights:
- Napier arrived to the press conference over 20 minutes later than expected and said it was because he was having a “long” talk with the team. Fittingly, he opened by talking about the culture he’s building. As he’s consistently done all season up to this point, he made it a point of emphasis to talk about how important it is for players to be people before anything else — good people firstly, good players secondly.
- He said that the team was “exceptional” defensively at practice today.
- On Vanderbilt’s quarterback situation and how the team is prepping accordingly, he said they’re practicing with the assumption that they’ll see both QBs under center. Said they’re preparing for everything.
- On guys entering the transfer portal, he said that if it were up to him, players wouldn’t be allowed to do so until after the season ends. He praised the guys on their team who are sticking along for the entire ride and seemed a bit disappointed by those who didn’t. He added that it’s a “shame” to see guys entering it lately: “Control what you can control. That’s what we’re doing.”
- Said that the way he evaluates players at practice is heavily based on “the attitude, the mindset,” and, “the way they speak to each other.”
- On the team’s reported release of linebacker Diwun Black, Napier said the following: “He’s focusing on academics right now. It’s really important that he has additional time to focus on academics.” He added that that was all he was willing to say regarding the situation with Black.
- On Desmond Watson, he said that after “certainly not the best offseason in the world,” he “changed a gear” in training camp. Adds that he has more than earned the spot he now has. Says that he “has way more room to grow.”
- On where Anthony Richardson’s in-season improvement has been, Napier said a large portion of it has been in communicating better, improving his knowledge of defenses, and getting ahead of the game plans.
Rashad Torrence ll
- Torrence said he takes pride in being one of the top communicators on the team and that it comes from understanding both sides of the ball.
- On the improvement in their third-down defense, he said that “obviously, early in the season, we weren’t as good as we wanted to be on third down.” Added that they took it personally and have really been focusing on it over the past few weeks.
- On defensive coordinator Patrick Toney, Torrence said they didn’t let the outside criticism of him affect them and that not straying from his plan when things weren’t going well was important to the group’s improvement. “PT’s my guy … It’s just our belief in his plan for us.”
- Torrence said that the team isn’t really doing anything, in particular, to prepare for the cold weather, such as turning the fans on in the facility or anything. “It’s more of a mentality than anything.”
- On Desmond Watson, he said the big man’s ceiling is “really high.”
- On Miguel Mitchell, he said that he’s got a ton of bright side and that they’ve really taken him under their wing a bit in that DB room.
- On, Amari Burney’s development, said he’s made “tremendous strides” in learning the play book and that he really excels in knowing his role and doing his job well.
- On his viral takeaway against South Carolina, Watson said he was thinking “touchdown” once he got the ball in his hands. Added that he used to play running back when he was “little” and, jokingly, that it felt like old times.
- On all of the positive ratings and grades he’s been getting lately from websites like Pro Football Focus (PFF), he said that while it’s “cool,” the defense’s “team effort” and success as a group is more important than anything else.
- On his own potential, he said that right now he’s just focused on minimizing mistakes, but knows that if he continues to work hard and lose a few pounds, “the sky’s the limit.”
- On the deep talent of their defense, Watson said that they’re comfortable being out on the field with one another because they know that they are all athletic and can really play. “I feel like we’re all athletes.”
- On the charity work he’s been doing lately, he said that he feels like “it’s just a positive for everyone” and that he really enjoys going out and making people happy.
Everything Billy Napier, Rashad Torrence, and Desmond Watson had to say today can be seen HERE.