Auburn football cannot come out flat in Week 1 as Florida did, says Opelika-Auburn News editor Justin Lee, who believes a successful showing for AU in any game moving forward would mean showing up prepared; unlike a Billy Napier-coached Gators squad.
“For Freeze’s debut to be a success, the team just needs to come to the stadium prepared to play and put a solid starting point on film,” Lee wrote. “Coming out flat happens: Just look at Florida against Utah. Auburn should avoid that.” Lee tempered expectations for the 2023 season by putting it out there ahead of September 2’s kickoff against UMass that AU isn’t a contender with their current roster.
“The rubber finally meets the road, and whereas Freeze has been trying to temper expectations since the spring, the optimism from the Auburn fanbase is on high for opening weekend,” Lee prefaced before saying, “Even still, no one should expect a championship contender out of this stitched-together team of portal pieces.”
Billy Napier could be at Florida what Bryan Harsin was for Auburn football
Napier’s inability to have Florida contain big plays from the Utes caused the Gators’ undoing; not unlike the ways Bryan Harsin’s Tigers would look foolish on the field at times in 2021 and 2022 despite showing competency for much longer stretches. That seems to point to miscommunication, which could come from internal disagreements making players not focused enough on the play-calling.
With the once-proud Gators going 6-7 in Year 1 of the Napier era and losing their first Power Five game of his second season — sound familiar to any Auburn football fans by chance? — UF looks like the next SEC program to go through a dramatic breakup.
2024 is a landmark year for the SEC, with Oklahoma and Texas joining the fray, and Florida will always be a top job due to its resources, fan support, and attention from its boosters. Dumping Napier beforehand and finding someone truly fit for that spotlight (Urban Meyer anyone?) is easy to picture at the rate the Gators are going.