TALLAHASSEE — Billy Napier isn’t into public shows of emotion. However after the 12-game rollercoaster experience of a season got here to an finish late Friday evening, he couldn’t assist himself.
“It’s humbling to be standing on that sideline,” he mentioned, gently pounding the desk in entrance of him. “I’m happy with the best way these youngsters competed within the recreation. Happy with the best way these youngsters got here collectively.”
There was rather a lot for him to happy with towards Florida State. However in the long run, the Black Friday particular was an excessive amount of like all of the checkered Saturdays that preceded it.
The Gators have been actually good in spots, had horrible stretches, confirmed resiliency, delivered loads of drama and misplaced. This time it was 45-38, so no one can say the regular-season’s remaining act wasn’t entertaining.
ABC’s Friday evening viewers was handled to the very best scoring recreation in sequence historical past. It was the second straight week the gang rushed the sector after the house group beat the Gators, which may be some form of file.
The final time FSU followers rushed the sector was supposedly 1996, when the Seminoles beat the top-ranked Gators. Within the intervening 26 years, hardly ever has a lot pleasure erupted over beating a 6-6 group.
That’s in all probability a testomony to the place FSU has come from below Mike Norvell. He inherited the Jimbo Fisher/Willie Taggart dumpster hearth and misplaced 13 of his first 21 video games. Now the Seminoles are 9-3 and envisioning a return to Bowden-like glory.
“I’m simply so excited for what the longer term holds right here,” Norvell mentioned.
So what about Florida? Ought to we decide a 6-6 season as half-empty or half-full.
The half-empty crowd will level to the erratic play, some curious play-calling and the bottom-line incontrovertible fact that Napier misplaced to all of the rivals – Tennessee, Georgia and FSU.
That’s a primary for a first-year coach at Florida. Throw in a loss to Vanderbilt, and there’s ample proof for a half-full verdict.
“We simply have to carry out higher general,” Anthony Richardson mentioned. “It undoubtedly form of hurts simply figuring out what we are able to do and we’re not doing it each minute.”
Pearsall, Etienne offered the great vs. FSU
The nice minutes Friday evening have been Ricky Pearsall’s two landing catches and 148 yards receiving and freshman Trevor Etienne gaining 129 yards. Montrell Johnson added 85 yards because the Gators rolled up 262 yards dashing.
That’s adequate to win most video games, except your QB completes 9 of 27 passes.
“It’s simply loopy to see that there have been solely 9 completions,” Richardson mentioned. “That’s simply loopy to me.”
It should be famous that 5 of UF’s high six receivers have been out with accidents. It’d be laborious for Patrick Mahomes to beat that form of madness.
Then there was UF’s protection, which struggled to succeed in quarter-full stage many of the season. It didn’t assist issues that the highest two tacklers have been largely lacking. Rashad Torrance was out with an elbow damage and Ventrell Miller was serving a focusing on penalty within the first half.
With or with out Miller, the Gators couldn’t include Jordan Travis. FSU’s QB gave a clinic on how one can flip sacks into game-changing performs.
“His legs have been the distinction within the recreation,” Napier mentioned.
These legs largely defined how FSU scored 17 straight factors to take a 38-24 lead into the fourth quarter. Then the Gators adopted the usual 2022 script, rallying from the near-dead to virtually win.
Miller was requested if final 12 months’s group would have proven such moxie. He mentioned he didn’t know, so enable me to supply a definitive reply.
The 2021 group would have mailed it in.
The 2022 Gators laid the muse for future groups
“I’m happy with the intangibles our group confirmed,” Napier mentioned.
That will get to the half-full view of 2022. There was a number of progress, but it surely’s not straightforward to quantify. It’s stuff like angle and self-discipline and shopping for in.
The go-to phrase is “tradition.” Putting in a brand new one was Job One this 12 months for Napier.
“This a course of,” he mentioned earlier than the sport. “You don’t simply flip a swap and the home is constructed.”
Loads of followers don’t need to hear that, particularly once they see the short rebuilds at locations like USC and LSU. All I can say is each coach wants three years earlier than a legit verdict could be rendered.
We’re one-third of the best way there, not counting no matter bowl recreation UF will get. For all of the legit half-full criticisms, there’s no query the tradition has come round.
That’s why Napier pounded the desk Friday evening. He is aware of the muse has been laid.
It takes some time for that to translate into tangible success, however that half-full glass will finally begin to fill.
Simply take a look at FSU.
David Whitley is The Gainesville Solar’s sports activities columnist. Contact him at [email protected]. Observe him on Twitter @DavidEWhitley