Florida’s Billy Napier Addresses Altitude, Preparation For Opener At Utah

Jul 20, 2023, 12:16 PM

SALT LAKE CITYFlorida Gators head coach Billy Napier discussed his team’s preparation for playing at the University of Utah to open the 2023 college football season.

Florida’s Billy Napier on season opener at Utah

On Wednesday, July 19, the second-year University of Florida coach spoke during SEC Media Days in Nashville, Tennessee.

During his podium press conference, Napier was asked about the Gators playing the Utes in the season opener for the second straight year.

“The Utah Utes have not lost at Rice-Eccles since COVID. I was wondering what y’all are going to do to prepare for that game and also, if the altitude is a factor, as well, in the preparation?” the Gator head coach was asked by a member of the media.

The following was Napier’s response:

“You know, one of the things, we’ve got a unique schedule this year, and that starts with a Thursday night opener at Utah, and it’s a challenging place to play. I spent a year in the Pac-12. I was at Arizona State. We actually went there to play. So have a little bit of a feel for what that’s going to be like. But we’ve got a ton of respect for their program, the brand of football that they play. It’s less about where we’re playing and more about their brand of football. So there’s no question, they are one of the more established and successful programs in the country. You know, I do think we spent a lot of time with our performance team in the off-season researching the altitude. We’ve done a lot of work with NFL teams and go through that process consistently. We’ve got a good plan. All of that is already mapped out and ready to go. It’s going to be a great challenge and one that we look forward to.” – Billy Napier

The 2023 season opener will be Florida’s first-ever trip to Salt Lake City. Utah’s Rice-Eccles Stadium‘s field sits at an elevation of 4,637 feet. The Gators play at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, a venue at an elevation of about 147 feet above sea level.

According to the National Library of Medicine, altitude impacts “football performance through two separate and parallel pathways,” including “the decrease in partial pressure of oxygen reduces maximal oxygen uptake and impairs “aerobic” performance by reducing maximal aerobic power” and “the decrease in air density reduces air resistance which will facilitate high-velocity running, but will also alter drag and lift thereby impairing sensorimotor skills.”

Utah-Florida Series

The Utes and Gators have played twice before with both contests in Gainesville, Florida.

Utah’s first meeting with Florida came in 1977. The Gators beat the Utes, 38-29.

RELATED: Late Interception Sends No. 7 Utah Home With Heartbreaking Loss To Florida

Last season, the No. 7 ranked Utes suffered a 29-26 loss in Gainesville.

Utah and Florida kick off the 2023 season on Thursday, August 31 at 6 p.m. (MDT).

Kyle Ireland is a Sports Producer and Locals in the NFL Insider for KSLSports.com. He’s also co-host of the Yards After College Podcast. Follow him on Twitter (@kyleireland), Instagram (@kyleirelandksl), and Threads (@kyleirelandksl).

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Florida’s Billy Napier Addresses Altitude, Preparation For Opener At Utah