FSU 27, Florida 2, Game Recap: Muschamp football, Treon Harris version

The post game scene was all too familiar.

A week of crazy hype and confidence among Gator fans as the countdown to Saturday began. A night game in the Swamp and promises that the stadium would be “lit.” And belief that this time, as opposed to the ever-growing list of similarly situated games that didn’t pan out so well, the Gators would win.

But like so many times before, an ugly offensive showing- and that’s putting it mildly- kept Florida from having any chance in a game they ultimately lost to archival FSU, 27-2.

And so once again, the Gators watched glumly as an opponent jumped up and down, whooped and hollered, and celebrated a big win in the Swamp. Fans poured out of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in droves, knowing full well that another highly promising season was reduced to one consisting of some nice moments here and there but an overall sense of failure, and that there was more to be accomplished that wasn’t. And all that was left when the clock hit zero was the other team’s fight song and devastating thoughts about what could have been if only this Gator team had a decent quarterback.

The only difference this time around is that Florida’s season can still end in a championship. The Gators face #2 Alabama in this season’s SEC Title Game. But the moments of glory that earned Florida a spot there in the first place seem like distant memories now, as this season has begun to spin out of control with the finish line fast approaching.

In his last two years at Florida, Will Muschamp went 10-13, including a loss to Georgia Southern in the Swamp. Even when the Gators didn’t lose games they shouldn’t have, they simply looked awful on offense, relying time and again on the defense to bail them out in crunch time. Scheduled patsies like Bowling Green, Furman, Jacksonville State and Louisiana had no business even being in a game with the mighty Gators, yet all hung around until the fourth quarter. Florida hasn’t just become known for losing a lot of games under Muschamp, they’ve become known for employing a wholly unwatchable football team because the offense is so bad it’s a detriment to nearby inanimate objects.

And despite a year filled with hope, Saturday night became the most recent example of frustration, the latest display of offensive ineptitude, and the newest installation of “Muschamp football.” There may be plenty of hope that the Muschamp football is on its way out, along with plausible reasons to actually believe it, but until Treon Harris is off the field and on the bench where he belongs, we’re stuck with it. And while the pure fire from the last two years may be lacking behind this statement, you’re damned right Muschamp is to blame for this FSU disaster. He left Florida’s offense in shambles with just six scholarship offensive linemen, one running back of decent caliber and one quarterback of decent caliber for McElwain to work with. And when that quarterback, Will Grier, was suspended for PEDs, Florida was dumped right back in the same boat they were in with Muschamp; the lack of a real quarterback under center causes them to consistently flirt with utter catastrophe, and sure enough, playing Muschamp football one too many times caught up with them.

Joining the ranks of Georgia Southern, Vanderbilt, LSU, Missouri and South Carolina in the category of “gruesome home losses” is an utterly disgraceful defeat to an FSU team that didn’t even have to do anything to win other than sit back and wait for good field position. The Seminoles gained a paltry 162 yards of total offense up until the 7:46 mark in the fourth quarter. Most Division I offenses are good enough to make a team pay for that. But not Florida’s. Specifically, not an offense led by Treon Harris, who had his most horrendous game in a Gator career filled with them.

After the latest display of inaccuracy and awful decision making, I thought long and hard how I wanted to deal with Harris in my post game article. There is no longer any adequate defense of Harris, so I can’t really debate that point. Dozens of fans on twitter and Facebook have called for me to write a tremendously long article berating him for a whole number of things, and I truly did consider that. I also thought about writing a play-by-play analysis of him on every offensive snap; I forced myself to wait two days and re-watch every offensive snap. I got as far as the play where Harris overthrew a wide open Antonio Callaway in the end zone and then calmly clicked off the screen and shrugged. I expected to feel anger, dismay or even disbelief, but I felt nothing. As if I expected it.

So you know what? I’m done criticizing Treon Harris. I’m just going to use this platform I have to call for Josh Grady to start the next two games. And spare me the theatrics of how I or anyone else saying this isn’t a Gator fan, or that Grady couldn’t see playing time at Vanderbilt. Simple words do not describe how harmful Harris is to this Gator football team, and while “he can’t do worse” generally reeks of desperation as an argument to start another player… I refuse to believe an offense led by Grady can possibly be as bad as one led by Harris.

There are dozens of other players at other positions who do their very best every day in practice, all with the common goal of making the Florida Gator football program the best it can be. Playing Harris at quarterback again after the FSU game not only goes directly against that goal, but seems like a giant middle finger toward all those who fight for it. The principle is exactly the same as it was when I was calling for Muschamp to get fired last year. Grady probably isn’t going to step onto the field in Atlanta and throw for 410 yards and five touchdowns, but we don’t know that because we haven’t tried it; what we do know is that not only is Harris a miserable excuse for a quarterback, his mere presence on a football field has an alarmingly negative impact on the team’s overall performance.

As long as Harris is the QB, Florida’s defense has been, is and will be consistently flung back out onto the field in an unwinnable situation. “What’s the point of even trying?” is never the right attitude, but it’s a totally fair question for these defensive starters and key reserves. Seeing Harris mismanage the offense every time he steps on the field has slowly sapped the energy right out of the defense, until eventually the “bend but don’t break” unit finally broke.

No matter how many punts Geoff Collins’ defense forced, Harris and the offense would just give it right back to Sean Maguire. Harris would do it all: miss open receivers, step up into the pocket and into a sack, try to run around the backfield and into more trouble and fling wounded ducks in the general area of a teammate that had no chance of being completed. Given that FSU has a dangerous runner in Dalvin Cook, the outcome was inevitable. The only surprise was that it took 52 minutes before Cook exploded for a big run. Of course, one good run deserves another, and the 13-2 late fourth quarter deficit turned into 27-2 in the blink of an eye. Cook’s late game rampage consisted of 112 yards in the final 7:46, and included two touchdowns- the first of which sent the fans heading home.

And I feel awful for those other players. Think about it. They just lost a rivalry game knowing it really wasn’t their faults, and now they head into the SEC Championship Game knowing full well in the backs of their heads that even if they do the best they possibly can do on the biggest stage of their lives, their quarterback will more likely than not let them down once again and their efforts will be wasted. That’s got to be the worst feeling an athlete can ever have- that even if you do all you are physically capable of, even if you play every play perfectly, another player on your team is going to have such a fatal influence on the game that you still won’t be able to win.

The good news is that we as Gator fans appear to be through with having to watch this very soon. UF just grabbed Feleipe Franks from LSU, and Oregon State transfer Luke Del Rio will be available next year. Those two can duke it out for the starting job next year, and the right to compete with Will Grier once he returns from his suspension. And beyond that, Florida already has a commitment from prized 2017 QB Jake Allen, so the distant future looks pretty bright, too.

For the next two games, though, Florida just has to get by with Harris. But let’s remind ourselves what those next two games are: an SEC Championship and a major bowl game- two stages the Gators have seldom been to since the departure of Tim Tebow. Getting to grumble about what will happen in those games is admittedly a much better feeling than not getting to be in them at all.

That’s a testament to Jim McElwain. He guided the shattered remains of the program Muschamp broke to its first SEC East title in six years. Just imagine what he can do with a team of his own players/a Division I quarterback. The sky’s the limit for McElwain’s Gators, but as the rapid ascension continues, we may have to hit some storm clouds en route to it.

18 thoughts on “FSU 27, Florida 2, Game Recap: Muschamp football, Treon Harris version

  1. This article is a perfect example of what is happening with Treon at QB. As I watched the 4th quarter of the game Saturday night, I seen the defense just completely give up because why keep trying to stop FSU, when everyone in America knows our offense can’t even get a first down with Treon. I truly believe Coach Mac should’ve already given Grady a shot during the Gators past “CUPCAKE” games. Everytime I watch interviews with Treon Harris I tell myself that he’s not a D1 QB. The kid just doesn’t seem to have that eye of the Tiger, or killer instinct. I’m not bashing the kid as a person, but definitely as a college QB. Please Make A Change!!

  2. Welcome back to reality, Neil.

    It was fun while it lasted, wasnt it?

    The magic is still there and Coach Mac is doing a superb job of coaxing the absolute best out of all his players. Unfortunately, the best at QB, and the O-line, isnt nearly good enough. As I’ve commented before, Im done referencing the old coach. He’s long gone. But, unfortunately, his legacy will remain until at least next spring. Maybe by then, enough turnover has happened, and enough of Coach Mac’s solid foundation has finally cured and hardened.

    As I’ve said numerous times, let’s stay cognizant of the reality here. UF was never in line to play for the SEC Championship in 2015. The rest of the east front runners just flopped. So, instead of harping on the disappointments of the past month, let’s take pause and remember that this team has already exceeded anyone’s realistic expectations for this season. In spite of their monumental task coming up in Atlanta, and make no bones about it – I expect Alabama to set SECcg records against UF, it’ll help these young men grow up just a little bit more and help them appreciate being at the peak of the SEC mountain when they return to it in the next season or two.

    Go Gators.

  3. I think, like most typical gator fans, your article demonstrates that you don’t have a clue. Harris is not the scapegoat. Harris is not to blame for UF’s ineptitude. UF was inept on offense with Will Grier as well. It’s amazing how people forget the only reason UF had a miraculous comeback against Tennessee is because Grier was so mediocre for most of the game. They forget how awful Grier was against Missouri after the first few minutes of the game or how Grier made Kentucky’s defense look great. Guess what? Harris is as good, or better, than any other quarterback in the miserable division called the SEC East.
    Once again, you tout guys that haven’t played a down, or in Grier’s case, haven’t been good to begin with, as the upcoming saviors for UF’s offense. There is zero evidence that any of them will be good. Luke Del Rio couldn’t play at Oregon State, when he was the odds on favorite to become the starter, but was beat out by a guy who never played a down. We’ve seen Grier, and along with not scaring anyone with his ability on the field, he’s a liar and cheater. Then you tout high school players, Franks and Allen. They are not any higher rated than the other clowns since Tebow, Brantley, Driskel, Harris, Grier, Brissett.
    The most obvious reason Harris struggled against FSU is beyond your comprehension. It could be that FSU’s defense is very good and FSU is just a far better team than Florida. UF actually played pretty well on offense, that is, about as well as they are capable of. Harris, at least, didn’t turn the ball over. I shudder to think what the score would have been if either of the previous turnover machines, Driskel and Brantley had played. Guess what? Sean Maguire wasn’t exactly lighting it up either. He too missed open receivers with poorly thrown passes.The problem is that UF’s defense is not as good as FSU’s. UF couldn’t stop FSU from scoring.
    I just think your head will explode when UF beats Alabama this week. That”s right, I am predicting it. UF will score enough and you’ll look like an idiot with your tirade about Harris. Alabama is not as good as FSU. I predicted FSU to beat UF 38-0. I was wrong, and I thought, after a slow start, FSU would be ahead 17-0 at halftime. I think UF will beat Alabama 27-17. I just wonder if any of you have actually watched Alabama play? They aren’t a great team, as evidenced by them trailing mighty Tennessee in the fourth quarter. I don’t know why gator fans are scared of them. Check that, I do know why. Gator fans are the worst front runners of anyone, but they also are the quickest to jump off the bandwagon and whine, make excuses, and throw their players and coaches under the bus. This attack on Harris is just the latest example of how awful a majority, not everyone, Gator fans are.

    1. Look, you guys won Saturday. Congrats. It doesn’t mean you get to make up your own facts.
      Grier was clearly improving each week. Treon, on the other hand, is regressing.
      You point out the first three quarters of the UT game but ignore the Ole Miss game the next week. You mention early in the Mizzou game when that’s pretty much when we scored all of our points (six of which were on an absolute dime by Grier to Fullwood, if memory serves).
      FSU won because they have one of the best players in the nation on offense and Florida’s offense is terrible. You claim your defense is better than Bama’s yet they’re ranked below Bama (and Florida) in every statistical category.
      Thanks for stopping by.

      1. To point to statistics is the refuge of fools. Statistics don’t mean that you are better, you have to actually watch someone play and. also, take into consideration who those statistics were against. Florida has a great defense, and the statistics coincide with that, but the statistics are not why UF is a great defense. UF has played some very bad offensive teams this year. They are so bad, that Treon Harris was the best quarterback on the field for the vast majority of the games UF played.Look at the SEC East, is there one good offensive team? Is there a quarterback better than Harris? UF has better statistics on defense than FSU, but FSU is the team that dominated on defense Saturday night, not UF. AS Spurrier once said, “Statistics are for losers.” I’ve watched Alabama’s defense. I question whether their defensive line is as good as FSU’s. I think they have better linebackers, but the gap is narrow. I think FSU’s secondary is much better than Alabama’s. I kno the stats, interceptions, etc. But again, you have to watch the game. Alabama’s secondary was hailed after the Texas A&M game, but they weren’t great. Texas A&M’s quarterbacks were simply dreadful that day. They looked like Jeff Driskel against Missouri on Homecoming. Treon Harris’s performance against FSU was outstanding compared to the ineptness of A&M’s quarterbacks against Alabama. You can think UF has no chance against Alabama if you like, and for legitimate reasons. But to use statistics is the refuge of the lazy, uninformed, or folks that don’t understand football. Statistics said UF had an advantage in punt returns and punting against FSU. But UF got nothing from returning punts and FSU’s punter had a better game than UF’s. I suggest using your brain, not looking at statistics. If you do so, I think you’ll see that Alabama is a paper tiger, and UF has a very good chance to beat them.

        1. P.S.ESPN, with all their wisdom and faith in statistics, pegged UF’s chances of beating FSU at over 52%. Anyone who watched the game knows that was ludicrous. In fact, the game was in the bag for FSU after they kicked a field goal in the second quarter. UF played about as well as they could against a far superior team. Imagine how bad it would have got if Harris had turned the ball over, like he had in previous weeks? This nonsense about Harris regressing with each week is ludicrous. He missed some opportunities, such as when FSU blew a coverage on Callaway, but that happens every game and to almost every quarterback. FSU, for the most part, had a brilliant game plan. They used a controlled rush that was designed to keep Harris in the pocket, and were successful most of the time. Harris is most dangerous when he improvises with his legs or arm. He’s not as good when he has to sit in the pocket and go through his progressions. It’s also wrong to blame him when FSU’s defenders were in his face most of the evening. Individual players make a difference. Muschmp may still be the coach at UF if Dalvin Cook had not flipped to FSU. UF might have had success on offense if Derwin James was playing his first game, rather than having a whole season to learn. The gap between FSU and UF is still vast. FSU just has better players, and more of them, than Florida. It doesn’t appear that is going to change anytime in the near future, either. In this year’s recruiting, FSU is ranked far above UF, despite having far fewer commits, and their list including, not one, but two kickers. Fisher is so good at evaluating talent, that he can hand out a scholarship to a long snapper, as he did a couple of years ago. That is a sign of how strong FSU is right now. Let me know when UF is strong enough to use one of their spots in a class on a long snapper.

        2. UF has played bad offensive teams this year? Aside from Clemson what offensive powerhouses has Florida State played?
          It was ludicrous to claim Florida had a slight chance (52% is basically a coin flip) to win? It was a two-possession game in the fourth quarter!
          Also you currently have the 5th-ranked recruiting class…ours is 8th. Vast, indeed.

        3. Not to mention don’t hand me that ‘you Gator fans are terrible’ bullshit after what happened to the FSU Football teams’ cars after that Oregon game last year.

      1. Not sure what his actual motivations are by posting repeatedly on a Gators blog site. Common sense is that he’s just trying to get under everyone’s skin. He blasts Gators fans, many of us that actually watch all the games and know more about the SEC than he’ll ever hope to. He claims FSU has a better defense than Alabama, which is very far from the truth and is proven when comparing most statistical categories (total defense, passing efficiency, passing yards, scoring D, rushing D (by miles), INTs, fumble recoveries) etc etc etc. He rambled about how it was FSU’s defense that caused Harris’ troubles, completely ignoring his repeated failures over the past month. He ignores the injuries and lack of scholarship talent on the O-line the Gators had to start the season.

        I would debate his claims, and maybe even compromise on some things, if I thought for a second his motivation was to debate football. But it isnt. He’s just trying to pour gasoline on the fire.

        This guy, whether he wants to call himself John Harris or boeing747, or whatever new username he’ll come up with next, is offering nothing of value by commenting. He doesnt deserve to be engaged with intelligent counter-points. He’ll just have to enjoy seeing the Gators play a meaningful game next Saturday while the noles sit at home and wonder what might have been.

        1. I will add this though. He’s set up quite nicely to come back with more diarrhea of the mouth next week. Because Florida couldn’t possibly play worse on offense than they did last weekend, he’ll use that to make his point that fsu’s defense is better than Alabama’s.

          Because I believe Coach Mac can will a better performance out of his players this weekend, UF should put some points on the board (there’s no way the O is shut out 2 weeks in a row, right? Right?) and maybe even gain more than the 262 yards they rang up against the clown college. That will be all this moron needs to claim victory.

          Don’t fall for it.

        2. I try not to feed the trolls but come on, you can’t just pretend it’s only Gator fans who think Grier is better than Treon. Watch, listen to, or read and national media and they’re saying the same thing.

          1. I didn’t say that Harris was better than Grier. I just said that it is a fantasy that Will Grier was a great quarterback before he got caught cheating. UF’s offense was not some juggernaut under Grier. Grier had one good game against Ole Miss, that’s it. Harris had good games against Georgia, LSU, and South Carolina. I know Gator fans are very good at “if’n,” but in the case of Grier, it’s not based on anything real.

            1. Semantic debate, I guess. I didn’t think he was ‘great’, just better than Treon and good enough to MAYBE beat LSU or Florida State.
              Treon did look good against LSU but his limitations were sniffed out over the rest of the season (he can’t make those quick decisions from the pocket like Grier was starting to).
              Do you honestly think Treon could have manufactured the comeback against Tennessee?

      1. I wouldn’t say he’s said anything ban-worthy. Just a bunch of Nole-homer amateur football ‘expert’ revisionist history bullshit.

  4. 1) Cover Ridley. Double cover him if you have to. Don’t be so full of testosterone that you have only one person on him, if that person can’t shut him down. Start out with one man, but if he can’t do it, give him help. Ridley is Alabama’s lone big play threat.
    2) Keep Coker in the pocket and make him throw the ball from there. Coker is most dangerous when he is flushed from he pocket and improvises with his legs or his arm. He’s not a great quarterback when he has to run through his progressions and throw from the pocket. Florida’s players need to not try to get a big hit on Coker. Coker is huge and players will just bounce off him and then he will get out of the pocket, where he’s most dangerous. It make take more than one person to get him down, so grab a leg or whatever and hold on until help comes. The same goes for Henry. Forget about trying to get a big lick on him, just grab him and tackle him because you’re not going to hurt either one of them.
    3) When Coker does make a mistake, make sure you catch the ball. Auburn was handed a gift wrapped pick six, but dropped the ball. UF’s defense is better than Auburn’s and Coker will lose his patience and hand UF the ball.
    This is how UF can, and will, beat Alabama. It’s up to the defense, because I believe UF, led by Harris, will score enough points to win.
    Just like I thought it was a lock that FSU would throttle UF, I think UF and Alabama will be a very, very close game. I may be wrong, but I think if Alabama wins, which I don’t think will happen, it will only be by the narrowest of margins.
    One big ace in the hole for UF is the almost universal lack of respect for UF by everyone commenting about the game. Alabama’s players may actually believe the talk and think they can just show up. They might look at the FSU game and come to the same conclusion that many of you have done, that there is no way UF can score enough to beat them.
    This past year has a couple of great examples of why that is dangerous thinking. Kentucky, in basketball, was supposed to be the greatest team of all time, yet was beat by a bunch of slow white guys from Wisconsin. Ohio State was the first team to ever be an unanimous pick as the preseason number one team in college football. It turns out they only showed up for one game the entire season, last week against Michigan. Talent is important, but heart is more important. Get some internal fortitude, quit bashing Treon Harris, and have faith that UF can beat an overrated Alabama. Maybe UF can actually give Harris some time this week. I hear people whine about how terrible he was against FSU, but he was hit almost every time he dropped back to pass and had someone in his face constantly. As McElwain said, the rest of the team has to help some too.

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