Notebook: Gators make it easy for Harris

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Florida offensive plan was to ease Treon Harris into the game by leaning on the running game, but no one expected what happened on Saturday.

Harris got the offense lined up the right way and executed some easy throws, but his main purpose was to hand the ball off to the Florida running backs. He handed the ball off 51 times, adding six rushes of his own for 37 yards.

Harris attempted just six passes, completing three of them for 27 yards. Only one went to a wide receiver, a 13-yard catch by Latroy Pittman.

Will Muschamp challenged his team’s offensive line this week, pushing them to dominate the line of scrimmage and make life easy on the freshman quarterback.

“Understand the circumstances around you and do what you’ve got to do to elevate your play to help someone else,” Muschamp said to the offensive line.

The dominant running game worked. Florida posted 418 rushing yards, the fifth most in school history.

“We tried to take the pressure of him and run the ball extremely well,” running back Matt Jones said. “We kept his arm limited, and he did a great job.”

The Gators also know that they’ll need to throw more than six passes to win games going forward. The players are confident Harris can handle that because of what he showed in practice. They simply didn’t need him to drop back and air it out all day Saturday.

The run game kept Harris in a game-managing mode, but his teammates believe he’ll be ready when called on to throw.

"I told Treon before the game, “this is going to be the easiest win for you because we’re going to take it in our hand and pound the ball,”” Florida running back Kelvin Taylor said. “He just needed to go out and manage the game, get the signals, call the plays.

“The guy is a great player. He hasn’t even showed his arm really, but the guy is the real deal. He’s a great player. I feel like everybody rallies around him and plays around him.”

MUSCHAMP GETS OVER THE HUMP: Muschamp came into Saturday 0-7 as a player and coach in the Florida-Georgia rivalry. When he came to the podium for his press conference after experiencing his first win in the rivalry on Saturday, he reached over his shoulder and pretended to grab something and added, “let me lift this thing off my back,” before saying it was one less thing the media could write about him.

As usual, Muschamp turned the focus to his team and downplayed the personal importance of the win.

“I’m happy to win it,” Muschamp said. “It feels a lot better than the other side. I don’t think they’re going induct me into the Florida-Georgia Hall of Fame. I’m on the ballot now. I’m just really happy. I wish my father was here, that's what I thought about late in the game.”

FAKE FIELD GOAL: The Gators needed a spark in the second quarter. Already trailing 7-0 without much offensive success, the Gators looked like they were settling for a 38-yard field goal. Instead, they snuck walk-on Mike McNeely onto the field as the holder for a fake.

Georgia didn’t notice the change -- McNeely hadn’t been the holder for any field goal or extra points all year -- and the Gators ran the fake perfectly for a 21-yard rushing touchdown for the former walk-on.

“I’m just a risky guy as far as those things,” Muschamp joked.

The fake field goal flipped momentum. Georgia just got a stop and felt like it would be able to move the ball at will. Instead, the touchdown rejuvenated a Florida fan base looking for any bit of excitement possible.

“I think the field goal fake charged them up a little bit,” Muschamp said. “It changed the momentum of the game.

“You come in the locker room and know that coach is trying to be aggressive to win the game. We’re trying to be aggressive, we’re trying to win the game. We’re not being stupid about being aggressive. It’s all calculated risk you try.

MORRISON LEADS DEFENSE: Junior linebacker Antonio Morrison led the Gators with 15 tackles, and no other player had more than eight tackles. His 67 tackles on the season lead the Gators, and Dante Fowler is second on the team with 40.

Morrison slimmed down in the offseason to get himself in better shape for the season. It has helped him be able to stay on the field for longer periods and not get tired as much as he did in 2013.

“He’s a very instinctive, tough player,” Muschamp said. “He’s having a great year. He’s getting off blocks and making tackles. He’s having a good year for us.”


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