Harris leads Gators to road win

After throwing just six times in a win over Georgia last week, Treon Harris answered questions about his ability to throw the football on Saturday in Nashville.

The freshman went 13-20 for 225 yards through the air. He didn’t throw a touchdown or interception, but Harris produced extra yardage on the ground, running the ball 10 times for 49 yards and two touchdowns.

Treon Harris had command of the offense and managed the group to a second straight Southeastern Conference win. The play calls still favored the run -- the Gators ran 51 times compared to 22 throws -- but Harris showed he could be accurate with and take care of the football.

“He’s a guy that is overly coachable since he has been on campus,” Will Muschamp said. “He continues to work hard. He’s a guy that the game comes early to and he makes plays. We had a drop in the end zone so he should’ve had another touchdown. He’ll continue to get better and continue to improve. We’ve got all the confidence in the world in him.”

The 225 passing yards for Harris is the most by a Florida quarterback in a road SEC game since Tim Tebow threw for 304 at South Carolina in 2007. Tebow accounted for seven touchdowns during that game, and while Harris didn’t quite do that, he answered most questions about what he can do with the Florida offense.

Last week, only half of his six passes were thrown to targets beyond the line of scrimmage. On Saturday, Harris wasn’t afraid to let it fly down the field. On the second to last drive before the half, the freshman launched two deep balls to receivers in man-to-man coverage. Both fell incomplete, but Harris did connect on a 60-yard pass to Quinton Dunbar in the second half.

“The thing that strikes me is the maturity,” Muschamp said. “He just does not get fazed. He has been accurate in practice, nothing shocks me there. The maturity of carrying it into the games has been outstanding.”

The success in the running game has made life easier for Harris. The Gators ran for 418 yards last week against Georgia, the second most rushing yards against an SEC opponent. Putting that on film will force opposing teams to focus on the Florida running game for the rest of the season, allowing Harris to see one-on-one situations down the field.

Because of that, Muschamp wants Kurt Roper and the offense to take between 8-10 shots deep during each game for the rest of the season. The single coverage created by the running game should give the receivers chances to make plays down the field.

“We were going to have to take some shots,” Muschamp said. “We were prepared for it last week but it never presented itself. We knew (Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason) would challenge us in the front and make things happen in the throwing game. We feel very comfortable in that.

“There were a bunch of folks up (in the box). I like our chances with our guys down the field. We’ve got to win some 50-50 balls down the field.”

INJURY REPORT: The Florida offensive line got beat up on Saturday night, but none of the injuries are concerned serious. Right tackle Chaz Green hurt his knee but should be fine. Guard Tyler Moore had an ankle injury and didn’t return but there was no immediate update on his status. Rod Johnson had a shoulder issue but isn’t a concern.

It forced some moving pieces to the offensive line that was a makeshift unit by the end of the game.

“We had to move guys around, but hats off to our offensive staff,” Muschamp said. “We were able to stay productive.”

Receiver Ahmad Fulwood was dealing with turf toe but should be fine.

DRISKEL GETS INVOLVED: After not getting in the game against Georgia, Jeff Driskel had a role in the offense against the Commodores. The redshirt junior had four rushes for 10 yards and one touchdown and threw one pass that was incomplete. The Gators used him mostly in short yardage situations, especially in the red zone.

For all of his issues throwing the football this year, Driskel is still effective as a runner and will continue to get chances going forward.

“Jeff’s a good football player,” Muschamp said. “He’s going to contribute to our offense. We’ll find different ways, depending on how the defense is defending us.”


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