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How Billy Napier Plans To Change Florida's Football Culture, One Sock At A Time

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GAINSVILLE, FL — The term is “proximity,” and Florida coach Billy Napier challenged him to give meaning to a room full of reporters. It’s fair to open up and ask the writer about the definition of the word.

At the risk of apple-polishing our readers athletic, you’re so talkative that you already know the definition, or so keenly inquiring that you’ve looked it up. So we go straight to assessing the current level of closeness to alligators by pointing out the indisputable signs.

Must be socks.

Napier prefers white socks. More precisely, he obliges them. And now, whenever a player takes part in a team activity, Gators defensive his tackle Gervon Dexter reports, “I don’t see any blue socks out there.”

In fact, minutes after the players finished their media session on Tuesday, the entire team did a full pre-game stretching routine inside The Swamp, followed by several 100-yard jogs. They wore team-issued blue shirts, blue shorts, blue cleats and, of course, white socks. Very orderly. So unified.

But you may ask, so what?

“Everything counts,” says Napier.

Offensive guard Oscyrus Torrence witnesses how Napier’s overt effort evolves into a winning outcome in a move that has seen him spend three seasons in Louisiana.

“When I walk past someone with the wrong socks on and say nothing, it’s like[ignoring]flagging an aggressive tackle lined up in the backfield,” he said. I was.

Having finished 2021 by dropping five of their last six games against FBS opponents, the Gators team clearly lacked accountability, intensity, talent, or sometimes all three. Those who start camping in 2022 can dress appropriately.

It’s cliche to think that matching socks can make a difference to a Gators win-loss record, but coaches trying to establish a culture have to start somewhere. Growing into a sexual mindset would probably discourage in-game freelancing, leading to unassigned assignments.

Seeking a more accessible location, Napier wants all players to know the names and hometowns of all teammates. is to nurture Twice a year he staff shuffles lockers to foster new relationships. They’re getting a taste of it when they move to a hotel for camping. Their assigned roommate “will be someone they don’t really know,” says Napier.

In many ways, the past seven months have been a lengthy meeting for new staff that imprinted their expectations. It started last December in preparation for the Gasparilla Bowl when a departing coach overlapped with an incoming coach. Napier doesn’t want to waste a single minute and has new strength and conditioning. This gave Napier’s assistants a clearer picture of what they were dealing with and helped them assess what they needed to fix through hiring.

Hockey was at the center of another key moment during winter conditioning when the team ran a “curve” at Florida Field. Torrence and his fellow Louisiana transfer Montrell Johnson had run the side-split circuit under Hockey at Lafayette, so he knew what was in store. The Gators players who thought running down the stadium steps was exhausting were waking up.

“Me and Montrell were laughing before we started,” recalls Torrence. “They thought they knew what was going to happen, but they really didn’t. You could see the recognition when the man was on his knees.

Hocke calls the curve a test of mental and physical toughness and is meant to “expose anyone who hasn’t lived or trained right”. was — ‘You have to do what you want to do you don’t want to do’ — as a way to motivate your athletes for a 6 a.m. workout. And Hocke adds another gem as he discusses adjustments with Napier on his offseason offensive methods. “You can’t train a gladiator in a pillow fight”

But just like socks, pillows are important too.

Hockey’s right hand on Tuesday showed off one of the team’s new Oura rings. This is a device that measures sleep efficiency, with the goal that players rest for 8 hours each night. From RPO to his REM, Napier and his staff are rooted in player well-being.

“Napier installs some little things to make players think, ‘Am I going to do it the way the team does it or do it my way?’ and that’s how it goes,” Hocke said. increase. “You have to get out of yourself, be on the team, be coachable and do what you are asked to do.”

Hocke, the other assistants, and Napier’s past coaching experience have to do with the head coach’s penchant for intensive organization and quality control. Every second, every day is planned.” According to Napier, his next 22-day camp will be a period of “designed difficulty.” It’s a process he’s refined throughout his four seasons with the Sun Belt, and is now taking college football’s premiership to his conference.

Florida doesn’t have the SEC’s most talented roster this season. Alabama and Georgia share their differences, and they tend to be the most disciplined, given how Nick Saban and Kirby Smart consistently pull their collection of blue-chip stars toward a common goal. I have.

They showed that Napier is looking to prove in Florida: That proximity is the first step on the road to the award.

(Photo: Dale Zanin/USA Today)