FOOTBALL

'Nothing alarming here' but defense outplays offense: What concerns Billy Napier after Gators' scrimmage

Kevin Brockway
Gator Sports

The defense outshined the offense in Florida’s first intra-squad football scrimmage of the Gators' fall camp over the weekend.

Offensively, Florida coach Billy Napier said there were some struggles taking care of the football and in the red zone on Saturday.

“We did turn it over a few times,” Napier said Monday. “So the quarterback efficiency wasn’t what we wanted it to be. Now what does that mean — I think a lot of things contribute to that when you’re playing with a mixture of lineups, different positions, and different players. It can be better. That’s what I would say.” 

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Coach Billy Napier watches quarterback Gators quarterback Jack Miller III (10) during warmup before the football scrimmage on Aug. 13, 2022.

Florida Gators interceptions an issue in scrimmage

Napier didn’t disclose specifically which quarterbacks threw interceptions, but said they came as a result of third-and-long situations.

“We threw it to the defense in a couple situations where it happens: third-and-long, two-minute, nothing alarming here,” he said. “We get it. It’s going to happen. The good thing is our defense is creating some of that. We’re playing well, we’re affecting the quarterback, we’re playing well on the back end.”

Florida is looking to develop a balanced offense under Napier, relying on a physical offensive line to establish the run while sprinkling in passing off play-action. Napier will call the plays, with offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Rob Sale involved in game-planning and installation.

“I don’t think it was our best performance,” Florida wide receiver Trent Whittemore said. “I think obviously there’s mistakes made, but that’s why we go out there and scrimmage twice before we play an actual game. So there were some bright spots, there was some stuff we didn’t do so well but we’ll get it corrected.”

Gators defensive players, including Trey Dean III (0), during a practice Aug. 11, 2022.

On defense, Florida safety Trey Dean recorded one of the interceptions: “Without my D-line, I ain't gonna get no interceptions."

“Both sides of the ball did great,” Dean said. “We've got a great offense so we know our defense needs to come out there and play against a great offense. Especially, Coach Napier is gonna do different things and put us in different predicaments to make plays. But the offense did well, as well."

Napier said that UF made progress in terms of fundamentals and communication from the spring. As for penalties, Napier said the first-team offense was the unit that didn’t meet the set quota of one penalty per 30 plays.

“Those are all very correctible, if that makes sense,” Napier said. “Procedural-related. Outside of that, I thought it was pretty clean. We had a full crew in here. All college officials that had a good set of eyes on everything, told them to call it just like it was a gameday. We wanted to know if we’d have issues.” 

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Next Gators scrimmage will have an SEC crew officiating

Florida’s next scrimmage this coming Saturday will include a full crew of SEC officials. The Gators will then hold one more scrimmage the following week before its season opener Sept. 3 against Utah, ranked No. 7 in Monday’s preseason AP Top 25 poll and No. 8 in the AFCA USA Today coaches poll released last week.

“The big thing is, we had a very physical scrimmage, but we were able to stay healthy and make progress,” Napier said. “Obviously had a chance to watch that film yesterday and again this morning. Overall, I think we’re heading in the right direction.”