Florida coach Jim McElwain confirmed at his Monday press conference that quarterback Will Grier is suspended for failing an NCAA drug test, leaving sophomore Treon Harris as the starting quarterback for No. 8 Florida (6-0, 4-0 SEC) heading into Death Valley on Saturday to face No. 6 LSU (5-0, 3-0).
Harris’ only start this season came in the season opener against New Mexico State, and he has completed 19-of-27 passes for 269 yards and two touchdowns so far in 2015. He was suspended for the Tennessee game because of what McElwain called a violation of team rules.
In limited action during his freshman season at Florida, Harris completed 55 of his 111 pass attempts for 1019 yards with nine touchdown and four interceptions while carrying the ball 75 times for 332 yards and three more scores.
After Monday’s news, however, Harris will now be called upon to lead Florida as it tries to continue what has been a magical season in McElwain’s first year.
“Now it’s Treon’s opportunity to take the reigns and run with it,” McElwain said on Monday. “He will do a great job.”
Florida’s passing game has improved with Grier, but Harris brings a different skillset to the Gators. He may not have the same abilities that Grier did, but Harris is a capable runner and adds a different dimension to the offense.
McElwain was asked if the offense would change to adapt to Harris’ play style, but didn’t seem to think that would need to happen.
“No, I don’t think so,” McElwain said. “He’s been practicing the same stuff. Obviously he’s got a different skill set so there’s some things with his feet that are a little different. He’s done a great job of extending when he’s been in there.”
Before today, the biggest storyline leading up to this game was the matchup between Florida’s staunch defense and LSU’s Heisman hopeful running back Leonard Fournette. Now, an equal amount of attention will be given to the Gators offense and how it performs with Harris in control.
Despite the sudden and potentially season-changing news, McElwain’s excitement for Saturday’s game has not waned.
“We’re going to go play our tails off against one of the best teams in the country, on their turf. This ought to be a blast. This ought to be a celebration, this game, for what this is all about. This is fun, this is why we do it. If you don’t like this, get out of it man. Go do something else.”
McElwain: "Now it's Treon's opportunity to take the reins and run with it."
— Gators Football (@GatorsFB) October 12, 2015