3 takeaways from Florida Gators' 13th football practice under head coach Billy Napier

Graham Hall
Gator Sports

Florida’s 13th spring practice was held Tuesday across two outdoor practice fields near the team’s indoor facility, allowing head coach Billy Napier and his coaching staff its second to last opportunity for a tune-up before scrimmaging under the lights at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. 

The Gators will hold a walkthrough Wednesday with a ball, which will count as the team’s 14th practice session, before Thursday’s scrimmage concludes camp

From the viewing opportunity Tuesday, it wasn’t clear how — or if — the Gators had been divided into two teams, as individual drills once again dominated the viewing period. Napier spent the majority of the availability window working with the team’s quarterbacks, who appeared to have a more impressive showing than they have in recent sessions. 

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Here are takeaways from Tuesday’s spring practice.

Florida quarterbacks on display

During the 15-minute open portion of practice, UF’s signal-callers worked with both the wide receivers and the running backs during drills, as Napier looked on and instructed. The first drill had the quarterback roll out and deliver a 10-yard pass to running backs along the sideline.

Florida’s quarterbacks then moved from midfield to the end zone and worked with the team’s wide receiver unit, which was divided into two groups. Carlos Del-Rio Wilson and Anthony Richardson were paired together during the portion, with Jack Miller III and Jalen Kitna making up the other pair.

When UF’s four scholarship quarterbacks weren’t working with the group, walk-on quarterback Kyle Engel stepped in to work with the wideouts. Overall, the timing between quarterback and receiver appears to have improved since March 15. 

Marcus Burke works through apparent injury

Redshirt freshman wide receiver Marcus Burke is expected to play a larger role in Florida’s offense this season after making an impact as a freshman.

The 6-foot-4 Burke caught a pair of passes in 2021 before redshirting — hardly impressive numbers, but his ability to see the field despite UF’s overall depth in the room was a positive indication Burke was set for future success.

Burke hasn’t been highlighted too often in spring camp, although Napier avoided pointing out any individual players at the conclusion of Saturday’s scrimmage. 

It has no bearing on his overall performance in spring camp, but Burke may be limited or potentially unavailable in Thursday’s scrimmage after he practiced Tuesday in a non-contact jersey. Burke didn’t appear to be hindered significantly by whatever ailment he’s facing, as he was seen working on routes on air with Florida’s signal-callers.

After a drop on an out route, Burke bounced back and made an impressive grab on his following repetition during the open portion of practice. With not much depth in the room as it stands, the Gators can’t afford to lose Burke for a significant period, though there’s no reason to panic based solely on his attire. 

Antwaun Powell–Ryland Jr. banged up, too

The same could be said for Antwaun Powell-Ryland Jr., though he appeared to be hobbled a bit more than his offensive teammate.

One of the emerging leaders in the outside linebacker room, Powell has been pushed to be a more vocal leader throughout spring camp, though he may have to wait to display how far much he’s progressed. Powell-Ryland practiced Tuesday, albeit in an orange non-contact jersey.

He was seen going through non-contact drills on the far side of the practice field, though he wasn’t moving nearly as well as Burke — a sign his ailment may be more serious.

Until Thursday — or unless Florida’s coaching staff provides an update — the severity of Powell–Ryland’s injury remains an unknown.

Up next

What: Orange and Blue game

When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, gates open at 6 p.m. 

Admission: Free