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Billy WILL Get Us There

DRU2012

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I wish there were a way to better "Mark this down":
I can see our net improvement beginning to gather speed apace. There are so many factors, obstacles to be overcome...
There are caveats, REASONS why it has been, is and will continue to be "uneven" in its progress--but nonetheless it is real, unmistakable and, permitted time, patience and the freedom to "learn and grow", this Coach and staff will not just return us to Championship status, but ensconce us among the CFB Elite for long years to come.
It will neither be easy nor without setbacks--but nothing worth achieving ever is.
This is just the start.
Enjoy the ride (sometimes easier said than done).
 

Escambia94

Aerospace Cubicle Engineer (ACE)
Moderator
It is all about growth. Look at Charley Pell's first season, an 0-10-1 campaign in 1979 where the team grew, they rebuilt the roster from a wishbone offense in 1978 to some hybrid passing offense under Mike Mularkey (shared amongst 4 QBs: Tim Groves, Tyrone Young, John brown, Larry Ochan, and an injured preseason starter John Brantley) to a West Coast Offense under Mike Shanahan (Wayne Peace and Bob Hewko with cleanup by Larry Ochab and Mary Massey) where they went 8-4, and finally hit their stride in year 3.

Fast forward to Urban Meyer and you see a different kind of growth. In 2005, Meyer realized he had to tweak the offense to work with Chris Leak's skills. In 2005 and 2006 he had 50% of Ron Zook's roster, so that 2006 National Champion team was not like the 2008 team that was, well, entitled and full of troubled kids who happened to win a championship. Will Muschamp tried to clean up the locker room, but there was no growth. Jim McElwain tried to copy and paste the Alabama plan into Florida, but there was no growth. Dan Mullen's team did enjoy growth until they became spoiled sometime in 2020--without a championship to warrant that spoiled behavior.

In a later post I will go over each of these coach's first few seasons, but 4 games into the Napier tenure we can see some growth in the loss against Tennessee. We have not experienced the same lows as we did with Pell's first season, which is good. It is all about perspective here. The Gators are 2-2 with two of the worst performances we will probably see in Napier's tenure, plus two of the best performances we have seen historically--with the potential of seeing more of those. Some say the Gators have been uneven in 2022, but I would prefer to see the highs and lows in the first few games of the season rather than see nothing but the lows in year 1 and some highs in year 2 as we did under Pell. We really cannot compare to the Zook-to-Meyer transition, because Napier is not relying on many of Mullen's players. The best performers in 2022 are Napier's guys. Richardson is a gift, but most of that development is on Denny Thompson, the personal trainer out of Jacksonville's 6 Points. Napier has let it be known that he is not really modifying his plan around Richardson. Napier demands the same thing of all his players--learn this system, and good things will happen. We can argue whether his system needs to be modernized, but in the end Napier is the one who makes those decisions. I like what I see so far, even if it has been 50/50 through the first four games. Honestly, I think we learned more about the Gators in the loss to Tennessee than we did in the victory over Utah.
 

DRU2012

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@Escambia94,
Well, so far you've pretty well encapsulated a streamlined review of the coaching since I was at UF, interestingly enough. I can only hope that younger fans gain some perspective as a result.
Personally I can't escape the feeling that "uneven", while perhaps a kneejerk reaction/description of the first month of actual game results under Napier, was going to be the more or less inevitable impression, your optimistic take is the fairer, and in the longrun more clear-eyed view.
Even as normally more a "half-empty glass" sort-of-guy, I too see it that way from here...especially with respect to your summation: That we learned more from this latest loss against Tennessee than from our much-trumpeted first-game victory over Utah.
No use dwelling on what-might-have-beens now; yes, all told it is as easy to envision our record being 0-and-4 as 4-and-0. Unless things change drastically and quickly, a .500 season appears to be our likely "just desserts" from here after all.
That will neither be easy nor fun to watch, I fear.
We may well be reduced to finding what satisfaction, hope and encouragement in the overall improvement of this team in the course of the season--and perhaps in some surprising victories later on. For the moment, it will only be in the signs of what we are on the way to BECOMING that are likely to bring us pleasure.
 

Escambia94

Aerospace Cubicle Engineer (ACE)
Moderator
It is too early to tell what Napier's career will look like at Florida, but we can extrapolate with increasing accuracy as more data becomes available. First, here is the records for the head coaches dating back to 1979.
Charley Pell​
33-26-3 (14-16-1)​
55.93%​
Galen Hall​
40-18-1 (21-12)​
68.97%​
Gary Darnell​
3-4 (2-2)​
42.86%​
Steve Spurrier​
122-27-1 (82-12)​
81.88%​
Ron Zook​
23-14 (16-8)​
62.16%​
Charlie Strong​
0-1 (0-0)​
0.00%​
Urban Meyer​
65-15 (36-12)​
81.25%​
Will Muschamp​
28-21 (17-15)​
57.14%​
DJ Durkin​
1-0 (0-0)​
100.00%​
Jim McElwain​
22-12 (16-8)​
64.71%​
Randy Shannon​
1-3 (0-2)​
33.33%​
Dan Mullen​
34-15 (21-14)​
69.39%​
Greg Knox​
1-1 (0-0)​
50.00%​

Florida had 3 transformative coaches in recent history: Charley Pell, Steve Spurrier, and Urban Meyer. By "transformative" I mean that they completely overhauled the football program at the program level, at the athletic department level, at the university level, and ultimately, at a national level.

Charley Pell gave Florida its first AP top-ten ranking. He conducted several fundraising efforts to improve Florida Field, build the Ben Hill Griffin Jr Athletic Training Center, expand the southeast end zone (increased seating from 62,800 to 72,000), had the first luxury boxes installed, and ultimately fixed the finances across the athletic department. There was not much we could read from his first season, because he went 0-10-1 with a bunch of wishbone/option offense players and slow defense. The addition of Mike Shanahan at offensive coordinator in 1980 made a big difference as the Gators were one of the earliest adopters of the wide zone, horizontal run offense that would become a variant of the West Coast Offense for the Denver Broncos. Under Pell there was offensive innovation. The Gators beat in-state rivals Miami and FSU more often than not. It was not until year 4 that we could see big returns on the field with victories in week 1 and 2 of the 1982 season over #15 Miami and #10 USC. Unfortunately, in 1984 Pell was caught using NIL nearly 40 years before it would become allowed in NCAA football and he was fired. If it were not for that incident, Florida would have its 1984 SEC championship banner emblazoned on the stadium and could stake a claim to a national championship. He won 55.93% of his games, but he was on a trajectory to win 9 games a season.

Steve Spurrier needs no introduction. He was probably the most transformative of all the head coaches. He rescued the program from NCAA probation and built a powerhouse program. In his first game in the Swamp his Gators beat Oklahoma State 50-7 then march into Bryant-Denny Stadium and beat Alabama 17-13. It was quite obvious early on that Spurrier was the right man based on his victories on the field and his successes with the athletic department and the university and he became a national brand.

Urban Meyer is the last of the transformative coaches at Florida. Like Napier, Meyer came from smaller schools and was relatively unknown when he arrived in Gainesville. Meyer revamped the facilities, purged the team of rotten apples, and modified his plan to win. Meyer won his first 4 games, including a road game against #5 Kentucky, only to fall to #15 Alabama the following week. Like Spurrier, Meyer's teams were ranked just about every week.

Billy Napier is 2-2 in his first 4 games, but we should consider a few mitigating factors: the previous coach was fired after he and Greg Knox led the team to a 6-7 record, the previous coach was on NCAA probation, and the previous coach did not leave him much depth to work with. In that regard, his beginning looks more like Charley Pell's then Steve Spurrier's or Urban Meyer's. If the 2022 Gators can finish above .500 I would call that a win, even though I expect 7, maybe 8 wins. Based on the deliberate manner that Napier is building the program we might not see consistent, sustainable success at Florida for another year or two.
 

Escambia94

Aerospace Cubicle Engineer (ACE)
Moderator
I hope that's the case.
If not Napier, then we are screwed. Alabama has a generational coach. Georgia might have theirs. The hot coaches are going to the NFL now, which is a reversal of the trend from 15-20 years ago. If the trend continues then our best candidate after Napier will be an NFL coach with ties to college.

Again, I think Napier is the right guy due to his business approach and a plan that he has worked on for quite some time. This might not translate to championships.
 

condolawyer

Gator Fan
Patience, patience, fellow Gators. We are only in the embryonic stages of a 5 year (maybe less) to Championship status again. Remember Rome wasn't built in a day? Many pup Gators only came into the fold in the years when you would call UF and get a recording "Thanks of calling. Please press1 for Tim Tebow's daily devotional; Press 2 if you'd like to schedule Tim for your revival; all others please hold. FWIW Our 3 younger kids got into both UF and that school up the road who courted them and made them feel welcome and now we have two double FSTCFW grads. I saw a Natty watching them beat Auburn; the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Meanwhile stay frosty, let the system work...
 

DRU2012

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Staff member
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Patience, patience, fellow Gators. We are only in the embryonic stages of a 5 year (maybe less) to Championship status again. Remember Rome wasn't built in a day? Many pup Gators only came into the fold in the years when you would call UF and get a recording "Thanks of calling. Please press1 for Tim Tebow's daily devotional; Press 2 if you'd like to schedule Tim for your revival; all others please hold. FWIW Our 3 younger kids got into both UF and that school up the road who courted them and made them feel welcome and now we have two double FSTCFW grads. I saw a Natty watching them beat Auburn; the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Meanwhile stay frosty, let the system work...
Well put, bra' (though that grad-mix at home will likely lead to some "interesting" Sayurdays--if it hasn't already!).
All in all, though, I am with you.
 

Escambia94

Aerospace Cubicle Engineer (ACE)
Moderator
To be fair, Vegas favored Georgia over Florida by 22, and that was the actual point spread. Technically the spread rose to 23.5 to protect the money line, but in general Vegas is good at predicting success using proprietary, subjective algorithms.

I have talked about ESPN Football Power Index (FPI) quite a bit. I like FPI because it “encodes” many data points using a proprietary, objective algorithm. My own data tracks FPI rather well, and when I remove emotion from the equation I think I have a decent predictor. My unadulterated analysis predicted the exact score of 42-20. I adjusted my score based on emotion and got it wrong at 52-10.

All that to say: analysis provides a framework to talk about the game without resorting to emotion. We all know this team sucks. We should know that Napier is not here to win the national championship in 2022-2023. We forget that Mullen was fired for not improving upon 12 years of average recruiting. Emotionally we can just say the Gators suck. Logically we see signs that Napier is doing something differently than Mullen, McElwain, or Muschamp, but it is too early to tell if it is good enough. I can safely assume Napier is no Urban Meyer or Steve Spurrier, but that does not mean he is not like Charley Pell. That name elicits a lot of emotion, so let us focus on the part where Pell stripped down the program to its bare roots and rebuilt it from 4-7 (3-3) under Doug Dickey to 0-10-1 in year 1 and finally to top 10 rankings in year 4. Pell laid the foundation for the next 40 years of success as much as he laid the foundation for a half decade on NCAA probation. If Napier follows the rules, he could be a rebuilder like Pell—it might take 5 years to get top-end success, and his impacts on the program might last for decades.
 

DRU2012

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Staff member
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To be fair, Vegas favored Georgia over Florida by 22, and that was the actual point spread. Technically the spread rose to 23.5 to protect the money line, but in general Vegas is good at predicting success using proprietary, subjective algorithms.

I have talked about ESPN Football Power Index (FPI) quite a bit. I like FPI because it “encodes” many data points using a proprietary, objective algorithm. My own data tracks FPI rather well, and when I remove emotion from the equation I think I have a decent predictor. My unadulterated analysis predicted the exact score of 42-20. I adjusted my score based on emotion and got it wrong at 52-10.

All that to say: analysis provides a framework to talk about the game without resorting to emotion. We all know this team sucks. We should know that Napier is not here to win the national championship in 2022-2023. We forget that Mullen was fired for not improving upon 12 years of average recruiting. Emotionally we can just say the Gators suck. Logically we see signs that Napier is doing something differently than Mullen, McElwain, or Muschamp, but it is too early to tell if it is good enough. I can safely assume Napier is no Urban Meyer or Steve Spurrier, but that does not mean he is not like Charley Pell. That name elicits a lot of emotion, so let us focus on the part where Pell stripped down the program to its bare roots and rebuilt it from 4-7 (3-3) under Doug Dickey to 0-10-1 in year 1 and finally to top 10 rankings in year 4. Pell laid the foundation for the next 40 years of success as much as he laid the foundation for a half decade on NCAA probation. If Napier follows the rules, he could be a rebuilder like Pell—it might take 5 years to get top-end success, and his impacts on the program might last for decades.
Now THAT (the "Pell-connection/comparison") is an intriguing proposal.
I have often in the past wondered what Pell's PUBLIC reputation and legacy would be had he NOT tried to do things "the bad old ways" at just the wrong time in the evolution of the modern college game and gotten caught at it.
Because I totally agree with the rest of your evaluation of his part in the eventual "RISE OF FLORIDA"--in the SEC, AND on to the highest levels of the "Elite Programs of College Football".
Of course, the timing of Steve Spurriers career, first as a player AT Florida and then eventually as a Coach was perfectly timed to coincide with and ultimately enhance that "rise"...One cannot help but sense that SS was destined to be a part of that tale regardless.
One other thing, though:
I THINK maybe Napier will hopefully be more than simply a facilitator at the rebirth of UF Football this time: Unless Tim Tebow has dreams (not to mention the skills and accompanying intellect) of moving into and up the Coaching ladder, I do not foresee any SS-like savior (not even a "TT-like" one!) likewise on our distant horizon, poised and ready when the time comes to step in, shoulder the load and TAKE US HOME!
In fact, I am sort of HOPING that maybe Billy HIMSELF may in fact have it within himself to grow INTO the role. Perhaps it is stretching things to even mention it, but there are signs that this was at least PART of his OWN vision in accepting this job and coming here.
More power to him, if so.
But first things first: I understand and agree with your statistical support for "Phase One"...
He is definitely "doing things differently" from all the floundering failures that have proceeded him here when it comes to recruiting, so far. Signs are many that the same is beginning to show in other areas. For now, the only "results" we have are out on that theoretical, emotion-based "recruiting trail"..."Better, but with some of the 'same old crap' it must be said so far"...NO ONE should judge him by the disappointing unevenness thus far out on the FIELD. THESE Are mostly Mullen's quitters and shoe-throwers, after all. Let's see how this first full post-/OFF-season goes.
 

Escambia94

Aerospace Cubicle Engineer (ACE)
Moderator
Pell was doing what everyone else was doing, but other coaches ratted him out to conceal their misdoings. Now that NIL has leveled the playing field there is no incentive for coaches to rat one another out. The new lever to pull is the prostitution of talent.
 

DRU2012

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Pell was doing what everyone else was doing, but other coaches ratted him out to conceal their misdoings. Now that NIL has leveled the playing field there is no incentive for coaches to rat one another out. The new lever to pull is the prostitution of talent.
Funny you should put it that particular way, but I think I will just leave that one alone, step away...
Of course you are right historically regarding Pell.
But there is NOTHING we can do to redress it now, more than 40 years later. Note it, yes, give him what credit we can, and move on.
Hope you are right in your thoughts regarding NIL "leveling the playing field"...If it does, that may be its one saving grace. Otherwise "prostitution of talent" by the handful of richest programs (the ones WILLING to take this to the self-destructive LIMIT, anyways) will indeed become the dominant "order of the DAY"!
(@Escambia94,
Oh--and in light of this very recent suspension of Cox, and what it may well harbinger about where "team chemistry" and the staff's approach henceforth will be headed (you can BET it is a MESSAGE to everyone else in the program, at the very least!), I think we can safely assume that that "house cleaning" you mention is already under way!)
 

DRU2012

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By the way, the "Cox Business" won't be the last such episode...
However, its more public nature may or may NOT be the manner in which similar future such moves are done. It depends on how "loud" Billy feels "the message" will need to be transmitted, and exactly to whom.
THIS one was aimed at a particular individual, true, but also to his team, and indeed I think the whole "Gator Nation" to boot. The whole current "fishbowl"!
It may well be his HOPE that he doesn't HAVE to do things that way repeatedly...at least not TOO often. We'll see. But in terms of "continued upheaval", there will, unfortunately there MUST be more. Guys who came over with him from his previous job and team(s)--both staff and the handful of players, have been saying privately practically from the moment they got here that there were some big parts of "The Napier Approach" that were missing at UF, IMPORTANT features fundamental to his philosophy and how he builds a team and program to WIN--things that would definitely need to change here. Even Billy has alluded to it in his pressers along the way so far this first season. We are more and more going to be seeing its "gross manifestations" I think for the remainder of this year, and into the next cycle.
Everything he does is for a reason, has a specific intent. For all his cool, laid back demeanor, he may well be the most thoughtfully calculating, intellectually FOCUSED Head Coach we've had here (at least to MY knowledge and experience).
I had to laugh derisively at one commenter at another site's referring to him as "Gomer Pyle"; they couldn't have possibly gotten it more WRONG.
I am not even going to expand on all the ways, which SHOULD be self-evident at this point. Here's hoping at least SOME of our regular opponents make that same mistake for a time (though it is unlikely, and won't last long in ANY event). Like many at this highest level of the college coaching fraternity, Billy is himself a coach's son; these men recognize, are well aware of and hold mutual respect for their shared backgrounds and experiences.
 

Escambia94

Aerospace Cubicle Engineer (ACE)
Moderator
Back on the topic of Billy Napier, here is a look at the passing statistics while he was OC:
Year/ SchoolQuarterbackCompletion RatePasser Rating
2017 ASUManny Wilkins63.5142.91
2018 ULAndre Nunez63.4144.5
2019 ULLevi Lewis63.2150.24
2020 ULLevi Lewis64.9151.93
2021 ULLevi Lewis58.1137.0
2022 UFAnthony Richardson55.2128.85

Manny Wilkins's passer rating improved from 133.2 under Chip Lindsey (currently at UCF) to 142.9 under Billy Napier. The Sun Devils also improved from 5-7 to 7-6 with Napier as OC. For reference, Wilkin's passer rating went down slightly when Napier left AZU for Louisiana.

Levi Lewis spent his entire career as starter under Billy Napier. If I had to assess Napier's offense I would look at Lewis as the model. Lewis averaged a 144 passer rating, and he was rarely asked to run. He went undrafted in the NFL, signed with the Seattle Seahawks as a free agent without any live game stats, and is currently with the CFL Saskatchewan Roughriders.

There are many ways to explain why the Napier offense has not worked with such a phenomenal athlete at QB. The easiest explanation is that these athletes are a bad fit for the offense, and Napier is running this experiment against a tough SEC gauntlet instead of a Pac-12 or Sun Belt schedule. One thing that does not show up in the passer rating comparison is the tremendous running ability that Richardson brings, but is hesitant to use. If I had to pin down one thing to look at it would be Richardson's production as a runner. When AR runs for 100 yards, his passer rating is consistently over 130, between 130 and 327. When he does not run, his passer rating can bounce between 63 and 120.

If I could change just one thing from a coaching perspective it would be the addition of an on-field OC/QBC to work with Anthony Richardson. Napier is way too busy coaching all aspects of the game to spend all his time coaching Richardson in between plays. At the very least, instead of letting Richardson sit down and sulk after failing to make a first down, I would tell him to get on the phone and talk to the off-field QBC.
 

DRU2012

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That is a very good suggestion--that last point about Napier perhaps considering an "onfield QB-Coach". Billy's a detail-oriented guy, so it will be interesting to see what changes he continues to make.
Though a particularly outstanding and prodigious talent, Anthony Richardson will NOT be the last "high-profile, much-heralded big time quarterback" who comes to Florida with great fanfare and under intense media focus--and the next one will be as a result of Billy's own clear and conscious efforts.
THIS one (the whole way that, in retrospect, it seems that Mullen, the supposed "Quarterback Whisperer" at this point appears to have at least to some extent MISHANDLED TWO talented young qbs' crucial transitional years in college football) was already pretty bolloxed (a British word meaning "all fouled UP!") before the Coach even GOT here...The kid is SO talented that Billy it seems will do his BEST to salvage his psyche and try to see the kid, the team and all of us somehow hang in and BENEFIT, now that he (actually the two of them, Anthony AND Billy, are both) here--but all that is still in flux, and remains to be seen.
I'm sorry...It is a complex situation, one that in fact exemplifies, even embodies many of the contradictions, pifalls and general questions still to be answered with respect to everything that arises with the birth of this "new world" of "transfer portals", N.I.L., "Collectives" and all the rest of this expanding "Modern College Football Universe" as it somehow spontaneously "comes into BEING"!
 

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