Florida Gators Looking to Remain Disciplined in First Road Contest
Photo: Anthony Richardson and O’Cyrus Torrence; Credit: Alex Shepherd
The Florida Gators turned the page on the tumultuous 2021 season a short time ago with little intention to reread it.
However, as they hit the road for the first time in 2022, it’s hard not to think back to the game at Kroger Field in Lexington (Ky.) that kickstarted the downfall of the previous regime. The undisciplined nature the program created a problem. Communication (or lack thereof) was a major issue in the face the noisy environment. This led to troubling self-inflicted injuries against Kentucky. Accounting for 15 penalties and 115 yards — eight of which came in the form of procedural errors offensively (false starts) — the Gators dropped a crucial game to the Wildcats, 20-13, starting the troubling spiral to 6-7. Now, the Gators are heading to another hostile environment to face the No. 11 Tennessee Volunteers in Rocky Top, the emphasis on combatting the near 110,000 fanatics in attendance is doing the opposite of their meltdown on the road a season ago.
According to the Gators’ elite-caliber leftguard O’Cyrus Turrence ,, they must communicate at an extremely high level.
“Making certain that we are on one page,” Torrence explained Monday. “Not just verbally but signals-wise. We need to make sure we are doing the right-hand signals because it will be loud and we won’t be able hear each other all of the time.
“This means making sure that the running backs as well as the quarterbacks are on the exact same page protection-wise. It will be a great help to reduce the noise and other issues. “
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The importance of establishing an identity of discipline is a major focal point in year one of the Napier era. Since his December arrival in Florida, he has been vocal about the need for improvement in this area. The Gators have performed well in achieving that goal through three games. They rank No. 15 in fewest penalty yards per game (38, 114 in total) and tied for 33rd in fewest penalties per game (5. 33, 16 total).
Now, the Gators’ first road trip to show their growth in the area after the disappointing outing against Kentucky one year ago is here. They enter a rival territory with high expectations and a loud crowd.
Torrence is particularly inexperienced at playing in front large crowds. This is due to his three years of experience at Lousiana–Lafayette.
He recalled the Sun Belt Championship contest against Appalachian State in 2021 as the largest crowd he’s performed in front of — which had an attendance of just 31,014 fans — before being reminded of a trip to Texas in September 2021, an audience of 91,000 people. The Ragin’ Cajuns responded well to the atmosphere, committing just five penalties for 25 yards.
But, it will be a difficult task to conquer the trip to Knoxville.
” It’s going to be different. It will be a challenge, but it is possible to stay focused and stay on the same page. “We feel confident and can handle the crowd and manage the noise quite well. “
Starting quarterback Anthony Richardson ,, who has also not seen a crowd quite as packed in Neyland Stadium on Saturday echoed Torrence’s sentiment that he is ready for the environment.
“Whoa! That’s a lot people!” Richardson stated. “I’m ready for that. “
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The author of 5 books, 3 of which are New York Times bestsellers. I’ve been published in more than 100 newspapers and magazines and am a frequent commentator on NPR.