Time stops for no man and the news that Will Grier will no longer be the starting quarterback for the Florida Gators is no different. There will be no timeout for the Gators, LSU and Heisman frontrunner Leonard Fournette care not what the Gators are going through this week. They’ll be waiting in Death Valley, licking their chops.
This time last year, Gator fans were clamoring for it to be “Treon Time” and with the news on Monday that starting quarterback Will Grier would be suspended for a full calendar year it is once again Treon Harris time for the Gators.
A true sophomore, Harris started the final six games last season, leading Florida to a 4-2 record as a starter, and started for Florida in the 2015 season opener against New Mexico State. Harris and Grier split time evenly before Grier took all of the snaps at Kentucky. Harris was suspended or a violation of team rules the next week against Tennessee before returning in a very limited role against Ole Miss and Missouri.
With Vanderbilt transfer Josh Grady and walk-on Jacob Guy as the only quarterbacks behind him on the depth chart (transfer Luke Del Rio is not eligible to play this season), Harris’ role will be expanded, to put it mildly, this weekend in Baton Rouge.
Last season Harris was supposed to make his first career start against LSU. Harris had just been inserted into the game on Saturday afternoon in a 9-0 game in Knoxville. Harris led two scoring drives in the final quarter to lead the Gators to their 10th consecutive victory over the Volunteers before he was accused of sexual battery.
The charges were eventually dropped, but Harris was immediately suspended from all team activities and did not play against LSU that Saturday. He’ll get the opportunity this week.
“We move forward from here, and what it means is, for this football team it means next guy up,” McElwain said. “And we’re going into obviously a huge game. A huge game.”
The Florida Gators are new to the top-10 and will face off against No. 6 LSU in a battle of top-10 teams, the first battle of top-10 teams Florida has played in since November 24, 2012 against FSU. Going into the game without a quarterback that has started and led you to five wins is less than optimal, but Harris is no slouch.
Harris proved to be a winner, a gamer in high school. He didn’t lose a single game as a junior or senior starting at Booker T. Washington High School. He’s won at Tennessee, in Gainesville, against Georgia, on the road at Vanderbilt and in a bowl game. Treon Harris is a gamer, a winner, and the raucous environment in Death Valley won’t be more than he can handle.
Grier has been the starter for about a month now. Despite McElwain not mentioning it, or listing it on the official depth chart, Grier has been the starter, those following the team closely and the players on the roster knew that.
The task then for McElwain and the offensive coaching staff has been to keep Harris engaged.
“He’s been practicing all the same stuff and obviously he has a different skill set,” McElwain said of Harris. “He can do some things with his feet that are different and he’s done a good job of extending when he’s in there.”
The Florida Gators have no choice but to go with Treon Harris this weekend against a formidable opponent. Fortunately for the Orange and Blue they have two good quarterbacks on the roster.
When the sun sets over the west stands on Tiger Stadium, a familiar recording will play over the PA system, “It is Saturday night in Death Valley” and more than 100,000 Tiger faithful will lose their minds. The Tigers are 44-2 under Les Miles when playing at night in Death Valley. Night time in death Valley is, as Miles said in 2013, “a place where opponents dreams come to die.”
The Gators hope that when the sun finds its home in the western sky the clock will read Treon time.