No reasonable Florida football fan expected a win over Georgia yesterday. Sure, there were ways we thought the Gators could create problems for the Bulldogs, but as a two-touchdown underdog, it would require a perfect game from Billy Napier and crew to pull off the upset.
2023 isn’t going to be defined by the 43-20 defeat to Georgia; it’s the four games to close out the season that will do that. But as Napier is ramping up his machine, Saturday’s defeat is a reminder of what he will need to build in order to be the man who leads Florida back to the promised land.
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At this rate, Kirby Smart can just start cutting Bill Goldberg-like promos and simply ask the sideline report after each game, “Who’s next?”
Georgia has now won 25 straight games. Florida has 25 wins total from 2020 until now.
It is somewhat unfair to say that if Napier can’t get past the team that is the two-time defending national champions, he will be fired, but as Urban Meyer said in Swamp Kings, it’s national title or bust at Florida.
It’s also true that Florida football fans are willing to forego some short-term results if it means a foundation that will lead to long-term success. This is the vision Napier has sold Gator Nation, and to that end, the Gators currently have 27 freshmen or sophomores listed on their two-deep chart.
Georgia, by contrast, has 19, with only five of those being considered starters.
When we go down the litany of reasons why Florida lost 43-20, overall talent level is one of the big contributing factors. Florida has a top-tier recruiting class incoming, and assuming 2025 and beyond look similar, that won’t be one of the reasons in the future we can point to.
Which will leave Napier no option but to topple the giant in Athens eventually. Because the reality in Florida is that if you don’t beat Georgia, the powers that be will eventually seek out someone they believe will.