Billy Napier gets it: SEC football starts in the trenches

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CREDIT: University of Florida Athletics

Billy Napier “puts premium on the line of scrimmage”

In a meeting room on Sunday, Billy Napier was bombarded by the media asking all sorts of questions. The 42-year old coach stayed cool, calm, and collected, meticulously answering well-thought-out questions. 

In his first press outing with the Gators, one thing was made clear: He understands what it takes to compete at the SEC and national level.

Where does that all start? In the trenches. 

Napier will use two assistants to coach the offensive line

Napier tipped his hand to his staff building, telling the press that he would use two coaches on the offensive line, a strategy only used by a select number of teams across the nation. Because Napier will call plays, the offense has an extra spot, which Napier will use on an extra offensive line coach.

“We’re one of the only teams in the entire country to have two offensive line coaches. We’ll have an offensive line coach and an assistant offensive line coach,” Napier said Sunday. 

“We will construct our staff on both sides of the ball and put a premium on the line of scrimmage,” Napier continued. “The offensive line, defensive line and edge players are very important.”

Napier explained his reasoning behind the unorthodox maneuver. 

“When you are coaching the offensive line, you have to coach five players. No one has one coach coaching five defensive backs. I don’t know why you wouldn’t have two guys coaching the offensive line.”

It is no secret that the previous Florida staff struggled to recruit the trenches. The former staff’s best recruiting win on the offensive line only spent a handful of months in Gainesville. Looking forward, the Gators could be in trouble in the coming years as all of the former staff’s recruits will have to see the field.

Napier’s biggest challenge will be rebuilding the trenches of a team that got pushed around for the end of Dan Mullen’s tenure. The offensive line struggled in 2020 to run the ball, causing Florida to go full-on Air-Raid with Kyle Trask. Meanwhile, the Gators could not stop a nosebleed or get to the passer on defense.  In 2021, both sides of the ball struggled to withstand the SEC’s gauntlet, getting pushed around by some of the conference’s weaker competition. 

Although the Gators will have a chance to close on some offensive linemen, Florida could use some day-one help, especially at offensive tackle. 

You might ask about the transfer portal as a band-aid, but the portal does not typically contain high-end offensive line talent. Napier will have to pull some strings to make sure the Gators will not repeat the last two years of play in the trenches. 

Two offensive line coaches could aid in developing the unit, possibly speeding up the process of the room as a whole.

“We’ll have the advantage of two offensive line coaches,” Napier said. 

Napier hopes to change all that this off-season by utilizing a particular staffing procedure and focusing on the development of an entire area where Florida desperately needs the help.