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Florida Gators 2022 spring game open thread: The Billy Napier era begins

Gator Nation’s first look at Billy Napier’s bunch comes on a Thursday evening.

Syndication: Gainesville Sun Doug Engle / USA TODAY NETWORK

Here’s a confession for you: Right this second, I really do not care about this 2022 edition of Florida’s spring game, which is probably still formally the Orange and Blue Debut even if no one uses that name out loud anymore.

The fortunes of Florida’s football program will almost certainly not be materially changed by what happens on the field on this Thursday night and airs on SEC Network+ or ESPN+ — except, that is, as it relates to how that play sways the hundreds of recruits in attendance, or how it affects the decisions of players who still might transfer from Florida’s program, or how any injuries that occur in a glorified exhibition affect Gators who will be expected to contribute in the fall.

And I know this is true because even the most remarkable performances I can recall from spring games past — Tim Tebow looking like a legend in the making, Cam Newton’s arm looking like a bazooka being ineptly fired in his spring experience, and Kadarius Toney being electrifying — did not immediately translate as anyone might have predicted.

Maybe Florida looks like it’s immediately ready to compete for titles under Napier because it’s ultra-sharp in its execution on this night. (It won’t.) Maybe a lack of playmakers on the field induces someone who runs very fast to commit. (It could!) Maybe it’s all just forgettable. (This is my bet!)

But there’s also a team of Gators competing for a national title, not against each other, on this Thursday night, and it’s a shame that Florida needed to move its spring game so recruits could go to both Florida and Georgia’s spring games and overshadow that competition in the process.

I’ll be watching both as best I can, but I know which is going to get my attention first.