Florida has found its starting quarterback. At least for Saturday.
Jim McElwain has announced that Treon Harris will start in the Gators’ season opener against new Mexico State. He also said that he “wouldn’t read much into it” and that that Harris and Will Grier would rotate based on the flow of the game; that means there won’t be an “every other drive” or “each guy gets a quarter” sort of deal.
This goes against pretty much everything I’ve said throughout fall camp about Grier outplaying Harris, and I’ll eat some crow if Harris eventually wins the job. That said, I still think Grier is in the lead for the starting QB role; it’s just not by so much that Harris clearly outplaying him against New Mexico State wouldn’t change that. Harris got off to a rocky start in fall camp compared to Grier’s hot start (hence my repeated assertions that the job is Grier’s to lose), but improved steadily as camp wore on and has now closed the gap significantly in the race.
As for who do I want to win the job? Well… Grier is the more natural QB with the better arm and better feel for the position, but Harris brings a level of athleticism that Grier doesn’t have. And just because Grier’s arm is better and is a more natural QB doesn’t mean that Harris doesn’t have a good arm (he does) and is incapable of making good reads (he’s not). I also trust McElwain to make the right decision; he’s got a far superior track record of developing offenses than I do (I coached a summer camp team to a regional championship once, and he’s the head coach at Florida).
But while McElwain has made a habit out of downplaying things, I think he’s right not to read too much into this. Remember, Florida could crush New Mexico State with its backups, so it isn’t like he’s starting Harris with the intention of doing all he can to win because that’s going to happen anyway. My analysis of this is simple: let’s see how things play out on Saturday, and then go from there.