Billy Napier and his Florida football team came out of the gates on Thursday night in Salt Lake City looking flat. The Gators ultimately fell the the Utah Utes, 24-11, in a game they never led that left a lot to be desired from the UF fanbase.
A great deal of the blame lands on the coaching staff’s shoulders, who failed to properly prepare the program for its first regular-season trip out west in ages, which also included boneheaded procedural penalties. Additionally, the running game — which was expected to carry a heavy load for the offense this season — was grounded leaving Florida with a shorthanded attack.
USA TODAY Sports’ Dan Wolken published his misery index for Week 1 on Sunday, which was headlined by the Orange and Blue. Here is an excerpt from his article.
Florida’s 24-11 loss was alarming in many ways, but especially on offense where the Gators went 1-for-13 on third down and were never close at any point in the game despite holding a Utah team dealing with injuries to 270 yards.
In college football, you generally know what you have in a coach by Year 2. There are exceptions, but the second year is when the culture should start to take hold and the improvement should be noticeable.
It’s only one game, sure, but the opener of Billy Napier’s second year was so unimpressive that his $31.9 million buyout is now a topic of conversation in Gator land coming off the back of a 6-7 debut season. At some point, though, is it the coach or is it the school?
Next up for Florida are the McNeese Cowboys, who travel to Gainesville to face the Gators on Saturday, Sept. 9, inside Ben Hill Griffin Stadium with a kickoff time slated for 7:30 p.m. EDT.