Quarterback Anthony Richardson left the Florida Gators and is climbing NFL Draft boards. Backup Jalen Kitna, the son of former NFL QB Jon Kitna, was arrested on child pornography charges and was dismissed from the team. QB Jack Miller III didn't have the best showing in the Gators' Las Vegas Bowl appearance in December, as the Oregon State Beavers manhandled Florida 30-3. And in Florida's spring game last week, Wisconsin transfer Graham Mertz failed to inspire much hope about the upcoming season.
In a Southeastern Conference that is in a constant arms race for the best players in the country, it appears that Billy Napier's roster is left wanting. After a tough first season in Gainesville, it might be time for the Gators coach to head back to the transfer portal and find another signal-caller to bolster his roster, or at the very least provide some competition for Mertz and Miller.
Swampy Start to 2023 for Billy Napier's Gators
Replacing Richardson is no simple task, but Napier appeared to be satisfied enough with Mertz and Miller to start them in the Orange and Blue spring game on April 13. Unfortunately, both players underwhelmed the Gators' faithful in the lowest scoring Spring Game in the school's history.
Mertz completed 18 of 29 passes for 244 yards and a touchdown, but the bigger story is how easily the Wisconsin transfer was rattled when put under pressure. On two of the first three plays from scrimmage, Mertz was sacked. On multiple incompletions, Mertz threw underneath his receivers, just as his Wisconsin scouting report had warned he did.
But, on the other side of the field, it's not as if Miller did better. Completing only 10 of his 20 passes for 144 yards, Miller did not use Mertz's shortcomings to fuel his campaign to be starting QB.
All in all, the Gators' offense sputtered and failed to produce. Not a great way to establish yourself as a top SEC team when your own defense beats up on your starting offense.
Freshman Failure Leads to Potential Sophomore Slump
When Napier arrived in Gainesville, hopes were high that he'd be able to bring the Gators back into the national spotlight. Early on, that appeared to be the case, but a 6-7 finish paints a different picture. The team that opened the season with a win over eventual Pac-12 champion Utah gave fans the feeling that the Gators were on the up-and-up, but the rest of the season proved that Florida was treading water. Unless Napier and his staff want to put the fan base through another middle-of-the-road disappointment, they'll need to act fast. Whether that means some hard work over the summer or even another look into the transfer portal to bolster their roster, the Florida Gators need to change a lot of things if they want to avoid another rough season in 2023.
MORE: Anthony Richardson Drills Roof on Pro Day Throw, Proving He Literally Has No Ceiling
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