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On Wednesday night, Gators’ head football coach Billy Napier met with the media via Zoom to discuss the team’s preparation for Sunday’s game against Eastern Washington, update depth chart changes and discuss Hurricane Ian.
Here are the main takeaways:
- Despite a game this weekend, it’s hard to ignore the fact that the state of Florida is being hit heavily by Hurricane Ian, with the Alachua County area set to be hit Thursday. As a result, the Gators adjusted their practice schedule, with Napier explaining they moved the schedule up and that the players and staff will have Thursday off. Despite the uncertainty and change, Napier was pleased with this week’s practices. “As far as the past couple days of practice, I do think that we’ve had good energy,” he said. “There’s no question yesterday and today were two of our better practices just relative to rhythm.” After the storm passes on Thursday, Napier said they will treat Friday, Saturday and Sunday is if they were Thursday, Friday and Saturday to mimic an uninterrupted game week.
- Napier made a point of emphasis on Wednesday to discuss how the program’s No. 1 priority at the moment is to make themselves available for the players and the players’ families who may be affected by the storm. Napier praised the GatorMade staff and Vernell Brown on doing that, saying that there are 15 to 16 players whose families may be heavily affected. He added that most of the help will be post-storm.
- The biggest change on the depth chart came in the secondary with Kamari Wilson taking over for Trey Dean III at safety and Jaydon Hill returning to the field as the starting corner in place of Avery Helm. Napier said that Dean III is injured and will not play on Sunday. While Wilson will start, Napier said Donovan McMillon will see the field, too. For Hill, Napier said he was impressed with him as a player, saying that Hill was one of the better players in spring practice, and that he’s done everything that’s been asked of him. Sunday’s game will be Hill’s first in-game playing time since the 2020 season.
- There was also a change upfront where Justus Boone is listed as the starter over Princely Umanmielen. Despite starting the first four games of the season Umanmielen has no sacks and only one quarterback hurry.
- As the Gators began the season 2-2, both of Florida’s losses came at the end of the game due to some self-inflicted mistakes, especially on Saturday against Tennessee. “We have a laundry list of things that we need to eliminate each week,” Napier said. “Last week’s game, I thought we were close, but there’s 12 or 15 plays in the game where Florida is beating Florida.” With these errors, Napier said the staff is aware of what he calls “bad football,” and said the staff is working hard to address them.
- The last two weeks, the Gator defense performed poorly due to a lot of miscommunication and lack of execution. Napier said that even with a lot of young guys such as Shemar James, Scooby Wright, Wilson, McMillon, and Miguel Mitchell in heavy-communication positions, he believes the communication on defense is getting better, but that they’re still learning. “I don’t know that we’re ever going to be not learning something relative to communication,” he said. “I think that that always can improve.” He further explained that there’s no plan to simplify the scheme due to a lot of the issues only being one player’s mistake rather than an entire unit’s mistake.
WCC: More of what Billy Napier had to say can be seen HERE.