Billy Napier cracking down on penalties in UF fall camp, has officials at each practice
Florida football coach Billy Napier's focus this camp has centered on what the Gators can control.
That's why officials have attended every practice, and penalty reports have been handed out following each session.
Napier has made addressing penalties a priority as the Gators prepare for their season opener Sept. 3 at The Swamp against No. 8 Utah.
"One of the things you’ve got to do as a staff is teach your players what winning football looks like," Napier said Tuesday. "We’ve always taken tremendous pride in not giving the other team anything, and I think undisciplined penalties are things you can eliminate."
Florida fall camp:TE Dante Zanders slimmed down and eager to build on strong spring
David Whitley:Billy Napier works to bring discipline, accountability back at UF, down to the uniform socks | David Whitley
Football recruiting:Miami, Florida, UCF among top programs recruiting Florida in July
Blowing the whistle on 'undisciplined' play
Last season, Napier's team ranked fifth in the Sun Belt in penalty yardage at 49,0 yards per game.
"You start with undisciplined penalties, you start with turnovers, you start with mental errors, lack of effort plays, fundamental and technique flaws," he said. "We want to eliminate the chinks in the armor, make the other team beat you."
Napier said the goal this season is for the Gators to be flagged just one in every 30 plays.
"We want those to be technical plays and not undisciplined penalties," Napier said. "So we’re making progress there. We won’t know until we get into that competitive opportunity and venues, but I think it’s part of the growth of this team and the education of this team.”
The Gators were a highly penalized team last season, which contributed to its 6-7 record. Florida ranked 13th in the SEC in penalty yardage and 12th in penalties called, continuing a recent trend. UF has been in the bottom two of the SEC in penalty yardage seven times since 2010.
"We’re learning a little bit more every single day," Napier said. "Thirteen years, right? It’s been 13 years since the national championship (game).. ... In the last 13 years Florida has won the Eastern Division three times. So, there’s obviously things that can improve. I think that was part of the assessment of the job, OK, what is it going to require to get Florida back in position to where they can be a consistent contender, to be in a position to be very competitive."
The penalty reports have been eye-opening to UF players.
"It was shocking and embarrassing a little," UF tight end Dante Zanders said. "He just highlighted all the undisciplined penalties. That way we can tell which ones were undisciplined and which ones were, I don’t want to say OK, but like actual penalties or flags."
Gators to move into Heavener training center this weekend
Napier said the UF will move into its football stand-alone facility, the Heavener Football Training Center, on Sunday. The 142.000-square foot, $85 million facility will provide state of the art training and weight rooms for UF players and other amenities.
"Everyone wants to talk about recruiting when it comes to the facility, but I think it’s more important to our player experience," Napier said. "It screams commitment and certainly the efficiency of how we’re going to be able to improve as an organization. Time is of the essence I think the new facility is going to create more efficiency for everyone involved.”
Back-to-school charity with hometown Gator Mike Peterson
Napier's wife, Ali Napier, UF linebackers coach and former Santa Fe High and Gator standout linebacker Mike Peterson and UF women's basketball coach Kelly Rae Finley took part in an event Monday that donated bookbags, school supplies and undergarments for more than 330 students at Lake Forest Elementary School in Gainesville.
Napier considers community involvement a high priority and wants the UF football program to continue involvement in programs that help others in need.
"We’re in a position where we’ve got more than most, and any opportunity that we have that we can serve, we can give back, we can provide for those maybe are in need," Napier said. "I think it’s probably the most important thing that we do. So it’s great to have Mike, who is connected locally ... (he) has a good pulse and understanding of the community here."