The talk this week was going to center around whether Florida head coach Will Muschamp will start junior quarterback Jeff Driskel or freshman Treon Harris in the LSU game. Some fans, if not most wanted a full switch at the position, while some probably saw Treon just having a more important role as the right call.
With the suspension over an investigation into sexual assault, Harris will not be available for this game and there really is no reassurance of his return at all to this point.
Before continuing, we need to make sure we understand that law enforcement officials are just in the investigation mode here and no charges have been brought on Harris at this time. As far as we know it is a he said/ she said situation right now.
But, for this team and now it doesn’t matter. He is out. He will not play Saturday when LSU comes to town in a very important game for this season, the tenure of head coach Will Muschamp, and his program.
What do the Gators need to do?
They need to rally behind Jeff Driskel. Often criticized, and rightfully so, he’s the only chance that the Gators have at quarterback to come out of the next group of games on the schedule with a few wins.
There were likely factions on the team that wanted one guy or another, heck maybe they all wanted Treon Harris to be the quarterback. But, none of that matters at this point. He is not an option. The good thing, any split that was there is gone now.
These guys need to make a point to let Driskel know they believe in him. The kid is 14-4 as the starter with losses to three top-15 teams on the road or at neutral sites. He is undefeated in The Swamp, where the next two games will be played. There are some things to lean on here.
At the same time, Driskel needs to let his teammates know that he needs them. Not to throw it in their faces about six dropped passes on Saturday, just let them know that he believes in himself and he believes in them, regardless of how things have gone recently.
I don’t think they have a choice but to rally now. There will be no split factions or looking over the shoulder, at least not at this point and under the current circumstance. Hopefully this will ease some of the uneasiness we seem to see on the field when Driskel is at the helm.
Everyone, the fans, the players, and likely the staff thought they had a new player to rally around heading to the middle of the season and tough stretch of football. It turns out they will have to really ratchet up their want for Driskel to succeed.
It also means another quarterback has to be prepared to step in. The thought of a sure red-shirt for freshman Will Grier is suddenly out the window. While there were a couple of times this fall that sophomore Skyler Mornhinweg may have looked like the best quarterback on the field at practice, he doesn’t possess the arm that is needed to be the guy heading down the stretch. He did what he could in his role last year, but the Gators are going to have more to finish anything like they want to this season.
Grier has to be ready. He doesn’t have to play if Driskel performs well. But, I think the redshirt has to be a thought of the past unless Harris’ situation clears up quickly, which is not likely to happen. The advantage that Grier has is that he was here in the spring. He has had nine full months of Gator football and should know most of the offense even more than Harris. He wanted to red-shirt to get better physically prepared to play SEC football. He has no choice now.
And for Harris, he will be tried in the court of public opinion over this no matter what, but he has not even been charged with anything at the time of this writing. We have to let the process play out.
If he is innocent, it is still going to take a while to get through everything. We have learned through the Jameis Winston issues at Florida State that the school has responsibility, beyond law enforcement and the judicial system, to investigate the issue because of Title IX funding and the rules about sexual assault on females on college campuses.
There will be no quick fix here, regardless. This team needs to rally with what they have.
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