When the Florida Gators travel to Lexington, Kentucky for the first road game of the season you can expect the two-quarterback rotation to continue for Jim McElwain in his first conference game.
“We stayed up all last night and re-evaluated everything we did again,” McElwain said on Monday afternoon. “Not sure we’re ready to say. I foresee right now probably both guys playing. Both had good things, both had things we need to work on.”
Will Grier and Treon Harris have split reps since spring camp started and continue to do so on Saturday. Harris earned a start in the season opener before Grier took all of the snaps in the second and third quarters. Grier earned the start against East Carolina and played the first quarter before Harris took over.
McElwain flipped the script from the opening week, allowing Grier to come in and start the third quarter, but the offense stalled and Harris was brought back into the game eventually. With Harris in the game the offense sputtered to a halt in the red zone — something McElwain has been critical of Harris for in the past — but penalties were an issue on those drives, something Harris can’t control.
“Treon had an opportunity there when we came into the red area. For whatever reason, kind of sputtered a little bit,” McElwain said. “Obviously, coming out after half, there were a couple of throws that Will made that, to reference this again, I think Bob Eueker would have had fun with. I don’t quite have an answer for that. They were at least pointed in the right direction.”
Both quarterbacks have had moments where they appeared to have total control of the offense and both have had moments where they’ve looked out-of-sync. What is true for both guys is that the level of play for both has been down when they come off of the bench cold. Both quarterbacks led three-and-out drives to start their games and both Grier and Harris went three-and-out when they came off of the bench for the first time in each of the first two games.
When both quarterbacks have shined they’ve had time to get a feel for what the defense is doing, get a few plays or drives under their belt and work into a rhythm.
“With any quarterback at this level it’s hard to get into a rhythm and when they’re coming in two series at a time when they’re coming in two series at a time,” senior offensive lineman Trip Thurman said. “I guess that can be difficult for them to get a rhythm with the receivers, but I don’t think it’s made a big difference in the two games we’ve played so far.”
Whether either quarterback would see an uptick in performance if given the opportunity to play an entire game without having to come out — or without the fear of being yanked because of a mistake — remains to be seen. Unfortunately, at least as of now, it doesn’t seem like we will find out if that is true this weekend.
The quarterback rotation and having to get quarterbacks back into rhythm may not have affected the outcome of the first two games, but the conference schedule is upon the Florida Gators and the upcoming opponents won’t be as easy to deal with.