The Florida Gators began their spring camp period on Saturday, marking the on-the-field start of Billy Napier’s second year with the program.
A lot has changed in the 16 months since Napier took over the head coaching job at Florida, and the culture change is now well underway. No longer will Napier have to explain every detail of his vision. The players see it too, and they understand what their head coach is trying to do with the program.
“The biggest thing is you start in a different place from a knowledge standpoint, a communication standpoint, a set of fundamentals at every position,” Napier said during a press conference on Saturday. “You’ve got a core group of veteran players that walk out here the first day you put the ball down and they don’t blink. It’s not necessarily what to do, but now it’s how to do it and why we do it that way…
“It’s like you moved to a new country and learned a new language last year. Now you’ve been living in the country for a while, so you’re a little more fluid and start to process quicker.”
Florida saw plenty of roster turnover during the offseason, so not everyone is stepping into spring camp on the same page. But Napier can rely on the players who have been with him for a year or more to help guide the newbies.
The hope is that the foundation set during 2022 will allow the Gators to improve on a 6-7 finish.
Much of Florida’s success will rely on the transfers’ ability to adapt quickly. The Gators are replacing four-fifths of their starting offensive line and will likely have a transfer starting a quarterback. The returning running game should help take away some pressure, but UF can’t afford to be one-sided.
The next month or so should give everyone a better idea of what Florida’s football team will look like in 2023, but the man in charge is optimistic after laying the groundwork for over a year.