Florida’s loss to Vanderbilt on Saturday was ugly, and Gators’ head coach Billy Napier isn’t denying that his team appeared to be woefully unprepared for what should have been the team’s ninth-straight win against the Commodores.
Napier, the class act that he is, didn’t put the entirety of the blame on the players, though. He took responsibility for the loss in the post-game press conference while still acknowledging the mistakes made by his players.
“No question, a ton of missed opportunities out there today,” Napier opened. “This is a simple game. I think our group knows what winning football looks like and we did not play winning football today.”
No, they did not. Florida put up a season-low 45 yards on the ground and consistently halted its own momentum by drawing unnecessary penalties on third down. Napier’s taken pride in cleaning up Florida’s penalty woes over the season, but this week’s team lacked the discipline that has been there for the past few weeks.
“We had way too many penalties in the game,” he said. “A handful of penalties that resulted in first downs on third down, in particular in the first half… There was a lot of Florida beating Florida out there today and that’s my job, to have the players ready to play. We did not do that today…”
“…I think our group understands what happened out there today, and ultimately, it was not enough to win. It’s that simple. I think a lot of the things that we’ve been doing, we were not able to do today. At times we played well on defense, but we didn’t work together today as a team.”
With one game left in the season, Napier is hoping his team can bounce back from the misstep and respond against a Florida State team ranked in the top 20. He called the loss a “reality check,” but admitted that it will take some in-depth film study to exactly diagnose what went wrong.
“I think there’s opportunity here for this group to respond the right way. I think ultimately when you go through challenges, you make mistakes, it gives you an opportunity to respond and to show your character. I think this is going to be an opportunity for this group to stick together. They’ve worked very hard to become a team.”
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