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Florida soccer: 3 issues we realized from 2022 Gators season, begin of Billy Napier period – Gatorsports.com

After an emotional 45-38 loss to rival Florida State on Saturday evening in Tallahassee, Florida coach Billy Napier pounded his fist on the desk throughout his postgame press convention. 

“Powerful one to swallow however we’re going to get higher,” Napier stated. “We’re going to enhance. We’re going to make use of that have.”

Florida completed the common season 6-6, 3-5 within the SEC, and can now wait another week earlier than discovering out its bowl vacation spot. 

Questions stay, as as to whether quarterback Anthony Richardson will keep or declare for the NFL draft and what number of different key gamers will select to enter the switch portal.

Napier might be judged with extra scrutiny in yr two as he makes an attempt to information Florida again to nationwide relevance. The Gators have not competed within the School Soccer Playoff because it started in 2014 and have not gained an SEC or nationwide title since 2008.

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“We’re a group that may be very common and we’re a group that may be elite,” Napier stated the week main as much as the FSU sport. “I feel that it comes right down to doing it when it counts, proper? Put the ball right down to go execute and go do your job.

“I feel consistency is the – that is what we’re trying to find.”

Listed here are three issues that have been realized from Florida’s up-and-down 2022 common season:

Florida’s entrance seven on protection was not SEC caliber

Florida lacked measurement, depth and playmaking capability in its entrance seven on protection. It is a huge cause why the Gators surrendered 30 or extra factors in 5 of 12 video games, and 40 or extra factors in losses to rivals Georgia, LSU and Florida State.

The Gators completed the common season ranked eleventh within the SEC in run protection (176.2 yards per sport allowed) and tenth in sacks (21).

Florida defensive lineman Gervon Dexter Sr., anticipated to have a breakout yr enjoying the three-technique, was as a substitute a disappointment, with simply 2 sacks and 4 tackles for loss in 12 video games. Edge rusher Brenton Cox Jr., wasn’t productive on the sphere and had points off it. By early November, Cox was kicked off the group resulting from what Napier termed “an accumulation of points.”

Linebackers Ventrell Miller and Amari Burney performed onerous however had limitations. Miller was distinctive as a tackler however struggled protecting tight ends and operating backs out of the backfield. Burney was good in protection however wasn’t constant when it got here to tackling.

Freshman Shemar James and sophomore Antwaun Powell-Ryland Jr., are potential constructing blocks for the long run within the entrance seven, however this can be an space Napier wants to handle within the switch portal to get rapid assist. 

Extra depth, expertise must develop at WR, TE

The harm bug hit the receiving corps onerous throughout 2022 and Florida lacked the expertise and depth to beat it. Of their sport in opposition to FSU, the Gators have been pressured to start out a real freshman at vast receiver, Caleb Douglas, who dropped a number of key passes.

Daejon Reynolds additionally dropped a large receiver display screen go in opposition to Florida State after a breakout efficiency the week earlier than in opposition to Vanderbilt (8 catches, 165 yards, 2 TDs).

Requested if the FSU sport might have been completely different with a full complement of receivers, Richardson responded: “Who is aware of? Who’s to say they’d have are available and caught the passes? They might have dropped the passes, too.”

Beginning receiver Justin Shorter sat out three video games in November, whereas Xzavier Henderson missed two video games. Ricky Pearsall was the one Florida beginning receiver to look in all 12 video games, ending with 29 catches for 596 yards and 5 TDs. Pearsall, Henderson and Shorter mixed for 9 landing catches, six fewer than Tennessee’s Jalin Hyatt, who led the SEC with 15 landing catches.

At tight finish, Keon Zipperer appeared in 8 of 12 video games with 1 TD catch. Zipperer, Dante Zanders and Jonathan Odom mixed for 3 TD catches on the season, two fewer than Georgia’s Brock Bowers.

Florida wants to seek out and develop extra constant and sturdy playmakers transferring ahead to maneuver up within the SEC standings.

Freshman RB Trevor Etienne has star potential

Etienne ended the 2022 common season on a excessive notice, dashing for a season-high 129 yards on 17 carries in opposition to FSU. His 45-yard landing run tied on the rating at 38, and his 48-yard kickoff return arrange Florida’s first landing of the sport.

For the season, Etienne completed with 704 yards and 6 TDs on 6.4 yards per carry, displaying distinctive velocity, imaginative and prescient and cut-back capability.

“He’s been doing all of it yr,” Richardson stated following the FSU sport. “Younger participant, nice participant, so shoutout to him. I’m glad he broke free, bought him a landing. He’s simply placing on for his household, repping his final identify, repping Gator Nation, I couldn’t be extra happy with him.”

At occasions this season, Etienne did not get sufficient touches (4 carries, 9 yards in a 31-24 loss to Vanderbilt). He break up carries with Montrell Johnson Jr., and needs to be again returning kickoffs subsequent season. His capability to catch the ball out of the backfield (8 catches, 57 yards) must be developed and utilized to change into extra of an offensive menace.

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