Phase one of the Billy Napier in Gainesville went down a treat last Saturday, as his Gators upset No. 7 Utah 29-26 inside The Swamp.
Behind star quarterback Anthony Richardson, Florida picked up a monumental win to open the season, proving that it's capable of contending in the SEC in 2022.
From one tough game to another, the Gators now turn their attention to No. 20 Kentucky, who will look to win its second game in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in as many trips.
Napier had this to say about Mark Stoops and the Wildcats during his game-week press conference on Monday:
“I’ve got a lot of respect for Coach Stoops and what he’s been able to do there. The consistency, their improvement as a program to win 10 games last year. I’ve always had a lot of respect for his teams because I think they’re sound. I think they know who they are on offense, defense, and special teams. I see a good set of fundamentals in all three phases and they do a good job of evaluating players and they’ve got some height, length, and speed. They’ve got some unique players that maybe weren’t highly-regarded but they’re as good as anybody in the country, so this is a good developmental program that I have nothing but respect for. You gotta beat Kentucky because they’re going to make you beat them. I think they’re a well-coached team and I got a lot of respect for the intangibles, the effort, the fundamentals; all the things that coaches respect, they do those things.”
There wasn't much else said regarding the Wildcats, but it's clear that Napier recognizes that this rivalry has come a long way over Stoops' tenure in Lexington.
Stoops had this to say about heading to Gainesville this weekend:
"In the SEC, every SEC game is important, and again, you know this from covering a long time – tell what game is less important than the other? I acknowledge sometimes over the years when certain things come in here and the way things play out, it’s a big game, yeah. But this is the next one, we’re gonna have quite a few big games and we always embrace that – you better. You better embrace the challenges that are in front of you and this is certainly one of them but you have to look at it. It’s fun. For us, and again I mentioned this through the years, but getting on the plane with a smaller group, focus on what we have to focus, go on the road and take that challenge is something we’ll embrace.”
Wildcats Today will have updates on injuries, game notes and more throughout the week as Kentucky prepares for its matchup against the Florida Gators.
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