Florida Gators spring football: Primer, players to watch, live stream online for 2022 Orange & Blue Game

By OnlyGators.com Staff
April 14, 2022
Florida Gators spring football: Primer, players to watch, live stream online for 2022 Orange & Blue Game
Football

Image Credit: GatorsFB / Twitter

The whistles will sound publicly for the first time under new head coach Billy Napier when the Florida Gators take the field Thursday night for the 2022 Orange & Blue Game. The spring football extravaganza is taking on a different look this season as Florida has not only moved it off the weekend but into primetime. The hope being that the Gators will receive more attention from recruits, more hype from fans and more press for the program overall.

Still, Florida enters this spring game with what Napier has consistently described as a thin roster. While the Gators have a first team on both sides of the ball, Napier is none too enthused with the depth beyond that and plans to hit the transfer portal heavy ahead of summer camp. Not only that, the plan is for at least five walk-ons to be given scholarships ahead of the season.

That brings us to the Orange & Blue Debut, which will serve not only as a spring game but major recruiting event for Florida. With so much having changed throughout the program over the last few months, let’s take a look at what to expect on Thursday night.

Viewing information

Date: Thursday, April 14 | Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium — Gainesville, Florida

TV: None | Live stream: SECNetwork+, ESPN+
SiriusXM: None | Radio: WRUF, TuneIn
Live updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

Tale of the tape

OrangeBlue
Key staffStapleton, Peagler, Toney, PetersonSale, Colbert, Juluke, Raymond, Spencer
Key playersRB Bowman, LB Burney, LB Cox, S Dean, DL Dexter, CB Hill, S Johnson, CB Marshall, QB Miller, LB Miller, S Torrence, TE ZippererLB Black, LB Borders, CB Helm, WR Henderson, DL Humphries, RB Lingard, LB Reese, QB Richardson, WR Shorter, WR Whittemore, S Wilcoxson, LB Wingo
CaptainKelly Rae FinleyTodd Golden

Format

The Orange and Blue teams practiced separately during the final week of spring camp; however, a handful of players will dress up for both teams amid depth issues on both sides of the ball.

There will be four quarters and a 15-minute halftime. The clock will run until the final 4 minutes of each half with stops only for scores, penalties and turnovers.

There will be an honorary Mr. Two Bits to open the spring game, and “I Won’t Back Down” will play along with other traditional songs and chants throughout the game.

What to watch

Quarterback play: With the signal callers still learning Napier’s system and redshirt freshman Jack Miller III still getting used to the program itself, the Gators still have plenty of strides to make throwing the ball. Technically, every position is up for grabs ahead of the season, but the clear expectation is that sophomore Anthony Richardson will earn the starting job. The key for him? Being able to make all the throws while staying in the pocket given he is still limited following his offseason knee surgery. Seeing him take a step forward in his ability to read through his progressions will be important. Richardson will be working with nearly the entire first team, which will obviously put him at a significant advantage even if he is going up against the majority of the first-team defense. (It will also be interesting to see the order in which the reserve quarterbacks are played.)

Running back battle: Between the two players who did not see significant field time a year ago and one of the program’s top offseason transfers, there will be a few new Gators toting the rock on Thursday night. Given Napier will be featuring a run-heavy offense — particularly during this transition season — seeing who impresses with the ball in their hands will be important. Redshirt junior Lorenzo Lingard and sophomore Demarkcus Bowman are both former five-star prospects who will get a ton of carries, while sophomore Montrell Johnson from Louisiana is slated to suit up for both teams.

Defensive unknowns: While Florida still had a successful offense under the last regime, its defense fell off a cliff. New defensive coordinator Patrick Toney has plenty of work cut out for himself not only putting new starters on the field but ensuring everyone plays up to his standard. Defense is always tough to judge in a spring game given contact is purposely limited, but given this will be the first time Toney’s unit will be under the public eye, it will be interesting to see who lines up as starters and how the overall scheme comes together.

Fan engagement: A Thursday night in Gainesville is never spent inside The Swamp, especially not in April and especially not by students or out-of-town fans. Given concerns about buy-in from fans over the last few seasons, it will be interesting to see whether Napier and his marketing staff have rallied the university and its supporters to attend this showcase event. The team certainly needs an active crowd, but the Gators are also trying to impress some of the top prospects in the nation with a party atmosphere. Whether Florida is ultimately able to deliver that remains to be seen, but a strong look on Thursday night could bode well for the rest of the offseason into the 2022 campaign from a support perspective.

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