With or without Grier, Gators must move forward

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I’m not going to sugarcoat this. Losing Will Grier hurts. I know that as well as you. And so I completely understand the frustration that’s been circulating throughout Gator Nation since the news broke that Grier was suspended for the rest of the season.

But as bad as it is, Florida is not really in that much worse of a situation than they were in before the bombshell dropped. Think about it.

Losing Will Grier does not in any way impact the Gators’ nasty defense, which is allowing under 300 yards of total offense per game, and has allowed just 13 points in the last 8 quarters of game action- and seven of those points were an Ole Miss touchdown that came with four minutes to go and a 38-3 lead. You know, we’re talking about the defense that sacked Drew Lock three times, picked him off twice and didn’t allow Missouri to get inside the Florida 25 at all following its first drive of the game. Grier doesn’t play defense, meaning they’re free to just keep doing their thing as they otherwise would.

Losing Grier does not in any way impact the suddenly phenomenal offensive line that Jim McElwain and Mike Summers have built.  You know, the offensive line that went from having six scholarship players in the spring to opening enough holes for Kelvin Taylor to rush for 284 yards in the last three games combined, and the line that’s kept Grier on his feet much more often than we all thought they would. Grier isn’t on the offensive line, meaning the offensive line has no reason not to continue to improve and dominate some really good opposing defenses.

And while losing Grier would result in a slight drop off at the QB position, Florida has a more than able backup in Treon Harris. OK, so he has the tendency to float the ball a little bit, and his split second decision making isn’t quite as good as Grier’s, but… he’s still a pretty solid quarterback, one that singlehandedly saved Florida from an embarrassing loss to Tennessee last year, and one who managed the game and played mistake free football in a huge upset over rival Georgia.

Which brings us to the premise of this article.

Here’s the deal for the Gators. Excluding Kentucky (which I’ll get to in a minute) the scenario for the SEC East is this: beat Georgia, and win any one of the three remaining SEC games (against LSU, South Carolina and Vanderbilt) and the Gators represent the SEC East in Atlanta. Now, Kentucky is only one game back, but this scenario goes into effect regarding the Widcats as well should they lose any of their five remaining SEC games (against Georgia, Auburn, Mississippi State, Tennessee and Vanderbilt).

Basically, what I’m saying is that it would take some serious self destruction by the Gators to not win the SEC East. I’ll remind you that Florida currently has a two game lead in the SEC East (one over second place Kentucky, who they’ve already beaten for the head to head tiebreaker) midway through the season. You don’t built a two game lead midway through the season with just a QB, but rather with an array of more than adequate pieces around a QB. Treon Harris may not bring the same skill set to the table that Grier brings, but you can beat Georgia with Treon Harris as your QB if your running game (read: your offensive line) and your defense collectively play the way they were recruited to play. All Harris has to do is not make mistakes.

This isn’t to say that Florida has to hide Harris entirely, because he does have a solid arm and real mobility, but whatever workload he’s given cannot result in turning the ball over or him doing something that’s similarly detrimental, like running around and taking an 18 yard sack when he could have just thrown the ball away. And this also isn’t to say that Florida has to regress to “Muschamp football,” as it’s less than kindly referred to as, meaning just run and play defense. It’s a mere reminder that a stout offensive line with able running backs behind it- which Florida has in Kelvin Taylor and Jordan Cronkrite (Jordan Scarlett appears to be headed for a redshirt)- plus a ferocious, opportunistic defense, which Florida also has, can win a big game by itself as long as the quarterback doesn’t make things harder for them. Again, “not making things harder for them” can mean making things much easier by playing a tremendous game as much as it can mean a performance that mirrors Harris’s ultra-conservative 3-6 day against Georgia last year.

But anyway, the larger point is that Florida is a football team, one that consists of dozens of different players with different roles, and one that’s lost one player at a very important role but with a more than able backup capable of filling his role in a different yet similarly effective manner. And most importantly, it’s a Florida football team that has a trip to the SEC Championship Game well within reach.

 

So enough of the past, what Grier did, and what could have and should have been. The reality we’ve been faced with is the reality we’ve got to go forward with; let’s just focus on the that.

Now, we see what Florida is made of. This is a team game. A team sport. Over 50 players and a dozen coaches are responsible for performing their various duties in order to do all in their power to make the school they play for the best that it can possibly be. Losing one player, no matter how valuable he is, should not get in the way of that. The great teams find ways to overcome adversity like this. Will 2015 Florida be remembered as a great team capable of overcoming said adversity? Or will 2015 Florida merely be remembered as a solid one that got hot and then folded when things got tough?

The task falls on the current Gator player and coaches to come together, regroup, and go out and fight with the same mentality that they did while Grier was eligible. In all kinds of weather, they need to all stick together… for an SEC East Championship.

And maybe even more.

6 thoughts on “With or without Grier, Gators must move forward

  1. First thought is, there’s no way this team reverts to Muschamp-ball. Coach Mac expects his players to come in and fill the holes left by injured or suspended players. He’s already demonstrated this. The Gators arent going to roll into Baton Rouge and run the ball down LSU’s throats. They’ll adjust the play calls to Harris’ strengths and roll the dice.
    Next thought is, you are right. Grier has no direct influence on the defense, nor special teams nor the offensive line. What he did influence greatly was the cohesiveness that was gelling with the offense, if not the entire team. There’s always something to be said about having consistency at positions. He’s been the starter for a month. Harris coming in will make it difficult to keep firing on all cylinders as they have been. But, dropping a cylinder won’t lose the game to LSU. So, they should be ok so long as they don’t self-destruct with stupid penalties and turnovers.
    Let’s also not lose sight that this is STILL the first year under Coach Mac. The Gators arent supposed to be world-beaters. They aren’t supposed to go 12-0. They aren’t supposed to do much except show growth and potential with this new staff. They’ve exceeded everyone’s expectations. That’s good but also bad, because now there’s going to be a small but loud contingent of Gators fans that will lose their minds if UF loses to LSU. They’ll try to blame Treon for not being good enough, blame Grier for getting busted, blame Mac for not doing X instead of doing Y, etc etc.
    I’m still in shock that UF controls the SECe at the halfway point of the season. It’s truly amazing. Coach Mac has done the unthinkable, already. There’s no reason to believe he can’t coax wins out of Treon during this gauntlet of hellish SEC games. But, if he can’t, and Treon slips up, and UF hits a hard skid, it’s gonna be ok. This staff & team has laid an incredible foundation, one that’s going to stay solid for years. Let’s think big picture here and realize how It’s Great To Be A Florida Gator!

    1. I don’t really think Florida will revert to Muschamp ball. My point was that this was the worst case scenario going forward, and that even that could result in beating Georgia.

      And re: the big picture, absolutely. Before the season, the Gators were picked to be a 7-5, 8-4 team. It would take a collapse of Herculean proportions for that to happen right now.

  2. I like the attitude but I do have a difference of opinion about one thing: the offensive line.

    Yes, it is better then almost anyone predicted in July, but is still only average. A lack of consistent pass blocking and trouble opening holes against good defensive lines will be exposed against good defenses (like LSU, FSU, and possibly Georgia).

    I think winning the East is 50-50 at this point. Comes down to beating Georgia, which is possible but no longer probable.

    1. Wasn’t Ole Miss a pretty good D-line?
      Look at all the running Grier has done this year. I feel like Treon could bust some of those wide open.

  3. I don’t think we’ll skip a beat Treon will be awesome I don’t understand why everyone wants to make it seem like Treon is a bad QB he did good for what he had to deal with last year starting with a terrible coaching staff and a horrible offensive line he saved us a few times our defense has been carrying us anyway though Grier has been pretty good we will do great behind treon Go Gators

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