Florida football USA TODAY Sports’ ‘loser’ after Week 1 loss

Florida football got off to a rough start in its 2023 season opener against the Utah Utes on Thursday night, taking a 24-11 loss as the home team avenged its defeat in the Swamp last year.

It was a shoddy performance all around as the Gators looked completely out of sync in every facet of the game. The Utes brought out the Steve Spurrier playbook for their opening play on offense, heaving a 70-yard bomb to take a lead they would never relinquish. While the defense managed to recover later on, it was too late for Billy Napier’s boys.

Speaking of Napier, a lion’s share of the mistakes made rests on the coach staff’s shoulders, including a procedural penalty for having two of the same number on the field. All in all, it was a bad look for the Orange and Blue — but at least Graham Mertz was a steady presence under center.

Following the game, USA TODAY Sports’ Paul Myerberg published his winners and losers from Thursday’s short lineup of games, dubbing the Gators as “losers” for obvious reasons. Here is what he had to offer.

One factor that seemed to be in Florida’s favor heading into this season was coach Billy Napier’s track record at Louisiana-Lafayette, which included a second-year leap that put the Ragin’ Cajuns on the map. That sort of turnaround seems hard to imagine in 2023. But it’s not like the Gators lost at Utah State, with all respect to the Aggies; they lost at Utah, which may be one of the top teams in the country. Florida could still get eight wins during the regular season but will have to show improvement along the offensive line.

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.

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Story originally appeared on Gators Wire