It has been three years since Florida has played a spring game and Billy Napier has assured us that this is going to be played like a real game.
Which means some of it will not be pretty.
And it won’t take long for the overreactions to begin.
Some things you see will never translate to Florida’s rugged 2022 schedule. Some of them will.
And it’s not like Napier and his staff will go off to an exclusive resort beach, put their feet up and sip frothy beers for the next month.
In fact, the next month is going to be critical for the 2022 football team because of the transfer portal.
In a perfect world, Napier will see all of the players he doesn’t think can contribute transfer out and players that can play transfer in.
But that’s for then and this is for now as the Gators get ready for their Orange and Blue debut.
Here are five things you shouldn’t worry too much about in the spring game.
An offense that struggles
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Hey, I’m not saying you shouldn’t worry a little. But let’s remember that Napier has said he likes his first team on both sides of the ball, but behind them, well, not so much.
[autotag]Anthony Richardson[/autotag] will get the start with the first-team offense and [autotag]Jack Miller[/autotag] with the second. This is only the 15th practice for both quarterbacks under a new staff and it’s not like there are all kinds of talented skill players to get the ball to.
It could be a little rough.
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Napier has stressed discipline and that is music to the ears of Florida fans who saw last year’s team finish 122nd in the country in penalties and 120th in penalty yards (out of 130 teams).
Spring games tend to be more lenient because coaches don’t want the game bogged down. Often, the officials are told to call only the most egregious of penalties.
On the other hand, Napier may want to send a message about discipline. But I think he wants the fans — and the recruits — to be entertained.
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Really, can you name the score of one spring game. Ever?
How about the last one, in 2019? It was 60-35 and saw touchdowns scored by [autotag]Lito Sheppard[/autotag] and [autotag]Chris Doering[/autotag].
Spring games are always kind of weird in that way in that every touchdown or big play means someone failed on defense and every big defensive play means someone did something wrong on offense.
You are rooting for all of the laundry. Not many people walk into the game with a vested interest in who wins. And the ones that do probably have some kind of a bet.
The stats and stars
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Yes, you want to see the players you hope will carry this team play well because it is a practice.
But often, the heroes of the day (or in this case, night) are players who are rewarded for being hard-working guys who rarely will see the field.
Or they are guys like Ian Skinner, who fought back from two knee injuries to light it up in the 2000 spring game. We were all ready to write the story when [autotag]Steve Spurrier[/autotag] told the media Skinner wouldn’t be with the team next year.
He had tested positive for drugs and said someone slipped ecstasy into his drink.
There have been others like Chevon Walker, 74 rushing yards and a TD, who transferred away a month after the spring game. Or the 2015 game when [autotag]Skylar Mornhinweg[/autotag] led the Orange in rushing and Jacob Guy in passing.
Or Christian Provencha throwing the game-winning touchdown pass for the Blue in 2011. Or Deandre Goins rushing for 45 yards while playing for both teams.
Spring games are mostly fun.
The attendance number
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We get why the game is being played on Thursday night (recruiting, Easter weekend) and Florida is encouraging all Gators to show up.
But it is a Thursday and that reduces drastically the number of people who will come from out of town.
And so the estimated attendance will be in the middle of the pack in the SEC. And at some point, the SEC Network will show all of the attendances for spring games in a graphic and someone will say something about the Gator Nation not being excited about Billy Napier.
The crowds for the real games are what matters. Not the free ones on a weekday night.
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