Gators believe Harris can make an impact

Treon Harris came on strong at the end of fall camp to win the backup quarterback job. He proved on Saturday that he’s capable of handling that role with two throws that both went for touchdowns.

At the beginning of fall camp, Harris looked like most would expect a freshman quarterback to. He was indecisive and inaccurate. When he did make a decision, it was often too late and the window closed for the completion to be made.

That started to change during the second week of fall camp. Harris started to get comfortable with the speed of a college practice and the throws started to become more accurate. The freshman quarterback was complimented in high school as a gamer, but he started to show in live scrimmage snaps in practice that he was able to handle the job.

So when he came out Saturday and went 2-2 for 148 yards and two touchdowns in his collegiate debut against Eastern Michigan, even the veterans on the Florida roster weren’t surprised.

“Treon, he does that stuff in practice, so it doesn’t surprise me,” Florida offensive tackle Chaz Green said. “But you should definitely applaud that. His first couple throws, you saw what happened. That was something to definitely applaud.”

After the first throw, the Florida team celebrated on the sideline with Harris. After the second touchdown, most just started to laugh. Starting quarterback Jeff Driskel came to greet Harris after the second touchdown pass. Driskel told him that his first pass was intercepted against Alabama in 2011.

“Thanks for showing me up,” Driskel quipped.

The two touchdowns both came from calls with opposite intentions. When Treon Harris first came into the game, Will Muschamp got on the headset with Roper and told him to continue to attack. He didn’t want Roper to back off the throttle. They needed to handle the situation like it was a normal game and get Harris reps like it was the first quarter, not the blowout that was actually going on.

So Roper dialed up a big play. Demarcus Robinson sprinted down the field, beating his man on a post route and going up to catch the ball in the air. It was thrown well, leaving the Eastern Michigan defensive back on the ground. Robinson jumped over him and sprinted to the end zone to finish off Harris’ first touchdown of the game.

“Oh man, perfect,” Robinson said of the throw. “Perfect position, the linemen blocked well. He just had enough time to get me the ball."

The second throw didn’t come from attack mode. It was designed to be a throw into the flats based on what the Florida offense saw from Eastern Michigan throughout the game. Instead, the Eagles changed their coverage before the snap to take the flats away. Harris read it perfectly, noticing the opening in the middle of field and hit running back Mark Herndon.

“He had really good vision and moved through his progression pretty quickly and made a heck of a play,” Roper said of Harris’ second touchdown. “It was a good start.”

The question now becomes what Harris’ role will be going forward. And at this point, the Gators aren’t announcing anything. He ran a play out of the wildcat package during the first drive of the game, but it didn’t convert on a 3rd and 3 play. That package could continue to get attention moving forward to get Harris on the field.

His skillset adds some different looks to the wildcat. He already showed that he could make throws to keep the defense honest. The coaches would also like to get him more reps moving forward to get him prepared in case something happens to Jeff Driskel in the future.

"He's a guy that has a knack for making plays,” Muschamp said. “He's done a nice job, and he showed that obviously on Saturday."

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