Although he’s been preparing for this moment for over half a year, the Gators’ new head coach Billy Napier can’t help but have jitters as he approaches his first game day at the University of Florida.
“I don’t think I’m ever going to be beyond that,” Napier said when asked about butterflies leading up to Saturday. “I think, as a competitor, man, football in particular, you work the entire year and you only get so many opportunities to compete, right?”
The Gators take on No. 7 Utah to start the Napier era and the first-year Power Five head coach is hoping to get the full SEC experience in week one. Napier called on the fans to pack the Swamp and help the team out. Single-game tickets are already sold out, so it should be plenty loud on Saturday as Utah tries to call its plays.
“We’re obviously excited about it being game week,” Napier said. “We really look forward to our fans showing up. We all understand Gainesville transforms on game day, and I’m certainly excited about experiencing that for the first time being on this side, right? So be there early, know that you’re a part of the team and that you can contribute and help our team in terms of the game.”
Win or lose, Saturday’s game against Utah should set the tone for the next several years of Gator football. There’s only so much one can tell before a game is played. Most fans should be able to see the night and day transformation made under new leadership.
While there will be a business-like approach to everything leading up to the actual game, Napier is still taking the time to appreciate his new gig. What’s the point of earning the promotion if you can’t enjoy the perks that come with it?
“There will be plenty of time to soak that in, I can promise you that,” he said. “It’s part of the reason you take the job, right, is for those special experiences in that place. So we look forward to that.”
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