Gainesville, Fla. (AP) Defensive tackle Tyrek Sapp finally went to bed around 4 a.m. after the season opener in Florida.
Hours later he woke up still reveling in a 29-26 victory over seventh-ranked Utah, setting the tone for coach Billy Napier’s tenure and validating the new regime , the regime spent nine months tweaking and tweaking nearly every aspect of the program.
The extended festivities ended with Tharp walking into the team meeting on Sunday afternoon.
“You have to understand that you cannot be complacent,” he said Monday. ”You have to understand that there is room for improvement, and the biggest room in the world is room for improvement. You have to accept it as it is, move on to next week, focus the next team with a laser beam, and get ready for your next opponent. ”
CLICK WAIT The Gators are Saturday night’s Southeastern Conference opener against No. 20 Kentucky (1-0), who won 20-13 in Lexington last October Charged the field after beating free throw-prone and 10th-ranked Florida State.
That loss was the start of a Florida free fall that led to Dan Mullen being fired in November and Napier being hired a few days later.
Napier has come a long way since taking over Gainesville. If the win over Utah gives his rebuilding a head start, beating Kentucky will bring the Gators one step closer to a return to national status.
Florida is on track to make the Associated Press college football’s top 25 poll to be released Tuesday, and Napier has already prepared a week of praise for his team.
”What will this group of players and this staff do with everyone who pats them on the back next week? ” said Napier. “I think that’s one of the hallmarks of the University of Florida. You’re in a state of 21 million people. You have a huge network of alumni. You have an incredible passion.
”So When it’s good, it’s good. When it’s bad, it’s broken. Learn how to ride it, ignore some subjective opinions and call it what it is.”
Now really Good.
Anthony Richardson looks like a budding star, a 6-foot-4, 232-pound quarterback with the size to rival a linebacker, the speed of a defensive back and the Enough arm flair and improvisation to keep opposing defensive coordinators sleepless.
His offensive line looks stronger than it has in years. Receiver Ricky Pearsall from Arizona Looks like a legitimate playmaker. Florida’s defense has enough bright spots — passer Brenton Cox, linebacker Ventrell Miller and cornerback Jason Marshall, as starters — to offset the unit’s run Stopping dilemma.
Richardson glossed over other flaws. Sophomore ran for 106 yards and 3 touchdowns, including a lead with 1:25 left. He also finished with 168 yards Made 17 of 24 passes and was at his most dynamic on a 2-point conversion early in the fourth quarter. He pretended to be a lightning-quick linebacker while spinning in the air before passing another Defenders, then found a receiver alone in the back of the end zone. Amari Burney intercepted Cam Rising’s pass in the end zone in the final seconds. It was the second of two goal-line stops for Florida State’s defense Times.
It also sparked a raucous celebration in the Everglades in front of 90,799 people – the 10th largest home crowd in school history and the largest for a family opener. Athletic director Scott Stricklin later gave Napier two game balls in the locker room, one for Florida’s first touchdown and the other for the final score.
On a night full of them, it was an unforgettable moment, all of which could do wonders for Napier’s plans and their current trajectory.
”When you’re a newbie, you’re doing something different The way things are done, you’re trying to build trust, you’re trying to connect with people, and I think it’s important for them to see progress,” Napier said. ”They have a little taste. .
” There’s always a little doubt until they see, ‘Hey, maybe we have a chance here. I think in the early days of your tenure, you’re always looking for these kinds of opportunities. It’s not over yet. ”
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