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Billy Napier: Penalties plague Florida football in second closed scrimmage of spring camp

Graham Hall
Gator Sports
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The Gators may continue to show improvement across the board, but Florida football coach Billy Napier wasn't pleased with the increase in undisciplined penalties during the team’s second closed scrimmage.

The scrimmage was held Saturday at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in place of UF’s 12th spring practice. UF's spring game is Thursday night. 

“I thought both sides of the ball did a lot of good things today. Just think that we had too many undisciplined penalties. That’s probably the main takeaway,” Napier said Saturday. “Last week, we played 120 plays and we had two penalties, and this week we were way up there. I’m not sure how many, but too many for my liking.”

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Penalties were a problem for Gators in 2021

Napier met with the team at the conclusion of the scrimmage and expressed his discontent, saying it wasn’t conducive to playing winning football. It’s not exactly unfamiliar territory for a Florida team that ranked No. 120 in Division I football in penalties per game last season.

In 2021, Florida was whistled for 105 penalties across 13 games, while the Napier-led Louisiana program was noticeably better, committing only 77 penalties across 14 games.

Before Florida can turn its focus to the opposition on the schedule, Napier knows the program has to clean up its own mistakes. 

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“I think the first way you win is you don’t beat yourself. You completely control the things that have nothing to do with the opponent,” he said. “We’re talking about undisciplined penalties, we’re talking about taking care of the ball, we’re talking about mental errors.”

The infractions aside, Napier thought Florida’s offense largely played turnover-free football for the second consecutive scrimmage, an area of the game UF’s head coach believes is just as important as minimizing penalties. 

“The turnover margin is, obviously, the most significant statistic relative to playing winning football,” he said.

A turnover-free performance wasn’t a given considering UF moved Saturday from the indoor practice facility to the open-air stadium.

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“I do think that we took care of the ball pretty good and that we played really well. Got a lot of situational football done today. Got out of their healthy, which is always a positive,” Napier said. “It was windy today. Overall, I didn’t think (accuracy) was bad. I think sometimes, we always evaluate the quarterback and if the ball is moving and we’re scoring, we think the quarterback is doing great, when in reality the quarterback play is dependent on the players around him.”

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That doesn’t mean Napier’s eager to highlight anyone in particular. The coach didn’t mention any players by name, saying the team is in the early stages of establishing an identity.

Not that the Gators are devoid of playmakers. 

“I think we have a lot of good individual players. But this game isn’t about individuals. This is why it's the best game there is — it takes 11 people doing their job. So we're not to a point here where we can start talking about individuals until we decide, OK, hey, we comprehend what it takes to be a team, right. That's not the problem, right, individual players with ability that can play, that’s not the problem,” Napier said. “We’re building a football team here. It takes much more than individual players.”

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