Billy Napier sees Florida offense improve in second scrimmage: 'A lot of good on the tape'

Kevin Brockway
Gator Sports
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Florida football coach Billy Napier said the offense showed improvement in its second intra-squad scrimmage Saturday at The Swamp.

"There was a lot of good on the tape," Napier said. "Obviously a lot of things that we need to work on and areas that we need to improve."

Specifically, Napier said the play on offense was cleaner. The Gators were able to move the ball without making as many mistakes. SEC officials called the scrimmage on Saturday after attending Friday's practice.

"We didn’t turn it over on offense until the last play of the scrimmage in a two-minute situation," Napier said. "We played, I think we had four what I would call technical penalties. We kind of minimized, I think we had one undisciplined penalty. That’s an area where I thought we took a step forward."

Florida Gators head coach Billy Napier looks on during week 3 of football practice at Sanders Outdoor Practice Fields in Gainesville, FL on Friday, August 19, 2022. [Matt Pendleton/Gainesville Sun]

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But Napier said there's another level of detail the offense can attain. He wants the perimeter play to improve.

"The tight ends on the edges, the receivers not only in the run game but all the perimeter concepts," Napier said.

Another area where the Gators struggled again was executing in the red zone.

"We had some chances to really break it open and we didn't do that," Napier said. "That's an area two weeks in a row where we can be better."

On defense, Napier said the unit took a step back tackling compared to the first scrimmage.

"More missed tackles than we'd like," Napier said. "And then I think there's a focus on gap identity, and that starts with alignment. Sometimes that's a simple thing that gets overlooked but being aligned correctly up front at the second level, playing with the correct leverage in the backend. And then just in general, the zone fits, the gap fits, all these things will be imperative as we approach the opener."

RICKY PEARSALL, JACK MILLER UPDATES

Napier said he expects to have wide receiver Ricky Pearsall (foot) back at practice this week. Pearsall went through some individual drills with wide receivers last Friday in a non-contact jersey, but did not take part in live routes with quarterbacks.

Pearsall has been rehabbing with cornerback Jason Marshall Jr. (hamstring), who also is expected back this week.

"We feel really good about their progress," Napier said. "We anticipate getting them back this week. I think both are very common injuries and things that just take a little time. We’re just waiting on the performance team and the training room and the strength and conditioning to make a decision when they’re ready to go. They’ve been doing quite a bit of work, but in a controlled setting. But we anticipate getting both those guys back shortly.” 

Napier said quarterback Jack Miller has a thumb avulsion fracture and needed the same surgery former New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees underwent a couple of years ago.

"We anticipate him missing, I’m going to say the first two games and we’re hopeful we get him back for Week 3," Napier said. "He’ll be in a cast in a couple of weeks as that thing grows back together and he’ll start the rehab process."

Napier said the competition for the backup quarterback spot behind starter Anthony Richardson with Miller out remains ongoing.

"We’ve seen (Jalen) Kitna do some good things, we’ve seen (Kyle) Engel do some good things," Napier said. "Max (Brown) is a little behind, obviously, being a rookie. So those two we’ll be observing over the next couple of days here. We obviously have some time. Both those guys are very smart and have a good understanding of what we do and move the team. This scrimmage showed they have the ability to move the team.” 

In other injury updates, Napier said projected starting left guard Ethan White sat out the second scrimmage due to a what he termed, "a minor setback and a small procedure. He will be back." Napier said offensive lineman David Conner has a more extensive injury and that his status going forward remains to be determined.

KICKING COMPETITION ONGOING

Napier said the competition at kicker between scholarship freshman Trey Smack and walk-on redshirt freshman Adam Mihalek remains ongoing and may not be determined until the week of the season opener. He could see using separate kickers for kickoff and field goal duties or using one guy for both jobs.

"The good thing is that I don’t think we have a problem," Napier said. "I think we’ve got two guys that are very capable. There’s healthy competition there. I’ve got confidence in both players.” 

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