Mac Names A Starting QB: Gator Nation Erupts

Sophomore Treon Harris was named opening day starter for the Florida Gators.

Sophomore Treon Harris was named opening day starter for the Florida Gators.

In a surprise move on Wednesday, Florida Gators head football coach Jim McElwain named Treon Harris the starter at quarterback for Saturday’s season opener against New Mexico State.

The news was surprising on two fronts.

First, no one expected him to announce a starter before Friday. Secondly, everyone outside of the Gators camp had fully expected to see Will Grier named the starter as they head into coach Mac’s first season at the helm.

The reason is simply that, by all accounts, Grier had been the more accurate and more consistent quarterback throughout the entirety of camp. He seemed to have better touch, particularly on the deep balls and out routes, and is reported to have better command of the offense.

Judging by Twitter comments, Grier appeared to have strong support of the fan base as well.

In an unofficial Twitter poll by Miami Herald Gators beat writer Jesse Simonton, Grier was the overwhelming choice.

Grier also far outpaced Harris in this Twitter poll.

Some of those Grier fans, however, seemed to jump off the deep end after Harris was named starter.

https://twitter.com/gatorschomp1019/status/63919931797107507

Leaving many Gator fans stunned in disbelief.

It wasn’t all negative nelly within Gator nation, however.

Even 247sports analyst JC Shurburtt threw his support behind the decision as well.

So, while most were surprised at Wednesday’s announcement, perhaps they shouldn’t have been.

Why?

First, Treon is the incumbent starter.

It seems everyone has forgotten that Treon started a number of games last season and, with Jeff Driskel transferring out, Harris is the only QB on the roster that has started a game and the only one who has even taken a live action snap for the Gators.

While Grier may have appeared to be the more polished QB in the short periods where anyone besides the team were able to observe, the fact that he has never taken a game snap at this level is huge.

His last live action snap was at a small Christian high school in North Carolina which is a far cry from SEC competition.

Second, Treon isn’t a second rate quarterback by any means.

While Grier received all the accolades as a high school senior, Treon was highly rated coming out of high school as well.

A consensus four star recruit, Harris was a two-time state championship quarterback at the highest level of high school football in Florida playing against top level competition week in and week out.

He’s no slouch for sure and being the son of a football coach, like Grier, he has a good understanding of the mental aspect of the game and position.

Third, Harris beat out Grier in camp last season too, so what’s new?

In much the same way as last season, he appears to have recovered nicely from his early camp struggles and come on late in camp to earn the start.

He’s taken all the first team repetitions during the “speedball” portion of practice for the last couple of days.

In a tight competition with little separation, perhaps Treon has a better command of the huddle. Coach Mac has repeatedly stressed that he was looking for the guy who “affects” his teammates in a positive manner.

Finally, naming a “starter” for the game is somewhat meaningless as both will play in the game and certainly a permanent starter wasn’t going to be named prior to this game any way.

The competition will likely continue past this game and perhaps even up to or beyond the Tennessee game. McElwain has repeatedly stressed that they’ve got see game film before they can determine a permanent starter.

Neither player has won or lost the job at this point, they’ve both played well at times and struggled at others but only one can take the opening snap.

So, perhaps there was a slight overreaction on the part of many Gator fans to the surprise news.

Regardless of what some fans may believe, Treon Harris has obviously earned the start but both players will have every opportunity to take command of the job on Saturday.

And realistically, in the long run, fans won’t care who the starter is if the Gators are winning.

Winning cures all that ails you.

And, unlike the previous head coach, Mac knows offense and is a great QB tutor and mentor and at this point deserves nothing but trust from Gator Nation.

So calm down Gator Nation, step away from the ledge, and enjoy the return of Gator football. Hopefully, we’ll also witness the return of offense to the Swamp as well.

We certainly won’t know much about either quarterback until after Saturday’s game is over.

Will Treon turn out to be “The Guy”?

Perhaps.

Does Grier have the moxie to take over the job once he finally goes live?

He very well could but remember, Harris has now beaten him out in camp twice.

Both players continue to have an equal shot at the securing the job, but will they both have full support from Gator Nation when one finally wins the competition?

Stay tuned!

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