3 Florida Gators to blame for season-opening loss to Utah

Despite outgaining Utah by nearly 100 yards, the Florida Gators never really stood a chance against the Utes, losing their first game of the season.
Florida v Utah
Florida v Utah / Chris Gardner/GettyImages
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While the Gators entered Thursday night's game as underdogs against a ranked Utah squad on the road, Billy Napier surely hoped for a better season debut than he received from his team. Special teams miscues and failing to convert in the red zone ultimately hurt this team.

Utah struck early and often, scoring on its first play from scrimmage on offense.

The Gators defense looked unprepared and, frankly, underwhelming against a Utah team that ran the ball early and often, including from the quarterback position. Napier doubled down on failed execution from all units postgame, which ultimately led to his team's demise.

"The first thing I told the team after the game was that 'execution wins,' I mean, let's call it how it is,'' Florida coach Billy Napier said. "It's simple. I feel that if we do what we're supposed to do at times, we're right in the game. Ultimately, the Gators weren't good enough tonight. I think our team will respond the right way, and I'm confident in that."

While some Gators deserve more blame than others, it's easy to start at the top.

Florida Gators to blame: Billy Napier

Billy Napier has preached patience as he builds a program Florida fans can be proud of in Gainesville, but his team has taken very few strides forward since he was hired prior to last season. Despite having one of the best quarterback prospects in this year's draft class in Anthony Richardson, Napier's team went just 6-7, good for a fifth-place finish in the SEC East. Florida was routinely housed by the best teams in their division, like the eventual National Champion Georgia Bulldogs.

Napier's performance on Thursday night had some Florida fans calling for his job, and not just those overreacting to the on-field product. The Gators failed in many aspects, including basic execution. That's on coaching.

Napier's team wasn't prepared, and a quick 24-3 deficit severely limited their chances of winning despite a decent second half from an offensive standpoint. Napier's buyout is $31 million, and he has some fans thinking about a GoFundMe. That's not a good sign.