Gators quarterback competition continues between Grier, Harris
Quarterback Will Grier was on the field for each of Florida’s 11 offensive possessions Saturday against Kentucky. Treon Harris never entered the game after splitting snaps with Grier over the first two weeks of the season.
Those numbers say Grier has won the quarterback competition, but Gators coach Jim McElwain says something else.
“Obviously, Will went the whole game,” McElwain said Monday. “Don’t read anything into that as far as how this goes this week. We’ll decide as we move forward and guys, that’s something we’ll talk about as we go.”
So the quarterback competition continues this week, as Florida (3-0, 1-0 Southeastern Conference) prepares to host conference rival Tennessee (2-1, 0-0) on Saturday (3:30 p.m., CBS). Grier and Harris were both listed as starters on the Gators’ Week 4 depth chart released Monday.
“We had some opportunities where maybe we should have put [Treon] in you know, that’s the way it goes,” McElwain said. “We kind of get a feel for it and that’s what we talked about. Yet there are some things we really got to work on with that position.”
Grier didn’t take advantage of the opportunity to win the full-time starting job in Florida’s 14-9 road win over Kentucky, finishing 13-of-22 for 125 yards and one interception. The one interception hurt, as the redshirt freshman threw the ball into coverage after Florida had reached Kentucky’s 5-yard line in the third quarter.
But Grier did find some success with his feet, using his athleticism to scramble for a team-high 61 yards, which included a 1-yard rushing touchdown on fourth down to give Florida a 7-0 lead in the first quarter. Most of those yards came from being forced out of the pocket, as Kentucky put pressure on Grier throughout the contest.
“Just OK,” McElwain said of Grier’s performance. “You know (he) does a great job on the first touchdown not forcing a pass that isn’t there and going and creating a play.
“And then he throws one against zone, where he should just give it to a lucky fan … but those are things you learn from and the good thing is it didn’t come back to bite us.”
Those mistakes could come back to bite Florida moving forward, though. Over the next five games, the Gators will take on Tennessee, No. 3 Ole Miss, No. 25 Missouri, No. 8 LSU and No. 7 Georgia.
In 25 drives as Florida’s quarterback this season, Grier has completed 68.4 percent of his passes for 442 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions. He is also second on the team with 114 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns.
In 12 drives as Florida’s quarterback this season, Harris has completed 70.4 percent of his passes for 269 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. He has also run for 55 yards on eight carries.
The Gators’ offense has scored 56 points (not including extra points) with Grier at quarterback, which averages out to 2.24 points per drive. The unit has scored 33 points (not including extra points) with Harris at the helm, which averages out to 2.75 points per drive.
These numbers prove the race for the full-time job is close. Harris will be ready to go if his name is called against the Volunteers.
“He’s a true team guy,” McElwain said of Harris’ attitude after not playing against Kentucky. “Obviously he’s disappointed and yet, you know what, he’ll prepare, he’ll be ready and we’ll see what happens this week.”