Treon Harris threw six more passes than you did from your couch in the Florida Gators 38-20 win over the Georgia Bulldogs in 2014. He only completed three more passes than you did in the win as well.
That’s all he needed to do. Florida’s running game was simple, but affective. On the day Florida rushed the ball 60 times for 418 yards and five touchdowns.
“It was a power play and pretty much that was it,” sophomore Brandon Powell recalled of the Florida Gators’ gameplan last season. “Two power plays and they worked the whole game.”
Nobody could have seen that coming. Georgia was a heavy favorite having won three in a row against the Gators. Florida was all but counted out, an afterthought in the game before the powered their way right past the Bulldogs.
This season, Florida has been far more balanced than they were a year ago in Jacksonville. Jim McElwain and Doug Nussmeier’s offense has run 475 plays — 253 rushes (53%) and 222 pass attempts (47%).
On the season Treon Harris has attempted just 59 passing attempts in the five games he has played and 32 of those — 54% of his season total — came against LSU two weeks ago.
The Tigers, like every team that Florida will face the rest of this season, will attempt to shut down Florida’s running game and make the Gators one-dimensional. If Florida is going to beat someone, that team will want to make sure that it’s because Harris beat them with his arm, not because the Gators ran power 60 times at seven yards a clip.
Can Harris handle that?
“I mean last year when Treon came in we gathered around him, and like I’ve always said he’s a really cool, calm, collected kid so he never like got bent out of shape,” receiver Ahmad Fulwood said. “It’s the same thing this year. I’m not shocked at how he’s taken the pressure. He’s doing his thing like he does every Saturday.”
Harris is a proven winner. He didn’t lose a single game as a junior or a senior at Booker T Washington High School and growing up in the area of Miami that Harris did means nothing that happens to him on a football field will intimidate or overwhelm him.
Harris led the Gators into Death Valley — easily the most hostile environment Florida will play in this season — two weeks ago and completed 17-of-32 pass attempts for 271 yards and two touchdowns. He didn’t turn the ball over and added 20 yards on the ground in a close loss. Harris started the game 15-20 (75%) before a string of seven consecutive incompletions as the Tigers were able to pin their ears back against a Florida team that was trying to come from behind. Not bad for a guy who had attempted just eight passes in the previous four weeks.
“You look at the historical background of Treon himself, he won a few ball games in high school,” Jim McElwain said on Monday. “That was a pretty darn successful program he came from. The stage is not too big for him. That’s the least of the worries.”
Harris has proven himself to his teammates. With Will Grier sidelined for the foreseeable future this is Harris’ team. Many of his teammates expected that he would win the starting job from the season, a few even openly expressed that sentiment publically, so the move from Grier to Harris doesn’t have them worried at all.
Florida will only ask Harris to be a game manager. “As you’ve seen so far this season, we want to be more balanced and that’s what we’re gonna try to do versus Georgia,” redshirt senior Trip Thurman said Monday.
Georgia will try to shut down a Florida rushing attack that managed just 55 yards on 31 carries against LSU and a rushing game that hasn’t averaged more than three yards per carry since September 26.
If they’re successful the game will fall into Harris’ lap. He was only asked to throw the ball six times last year, a number he will likely reach in every quarter that he plays on Saturday. The Florida Gators season and SEC Championship dreams could come down to the right arm of Treon Harris and if it does his teammates have faith he’ll get the job done. A win on Saturday will also make the sophomore 2-0 in two career starts against Georgia.
“I feel like Treon is going to play a great game,” junior running back Kelvin Taylor said. “I feel like he is getting more comfortable. All of the guys are supporting him.”