Florida coach Jim McElwain said for the first time last week that Grier is ahead in the battle, but quickly followed it by saying that the only reason that’s the case is Treon Harris missed a week of practice due to a death in the family. Both quarterbacks looked similar on Saturday in the Orange and Blue Debut, helping lead the orange unit, consisting mostly of the starters, to a 31-6 win.
The goal was to get equal reps for both quarterbacks, splitting them between the first and the second team offenses.
Grier went 8-11 for 136 yards with zero touchdowns or interceptions. Two drops also hurt the redshirt freshman’s numbers. Harris went 6-10 for 94 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. His touchdown went to freshman tight end C’yontai Lewis in the corner of the end zone.
“I thought for the most part the quarterbacks did OK,” McElwain said. “Treon’s got to understand the sense of urgency the closer you get down in the red zone. He’s slow with his feet, he’s got to get his feet set and the ball out. Those are attention to detail things that help you be successful to play the position, and yet he did some good things. I thought Will let a few of the drops bother him, he’s gotta learn (to) clap it off and win the next play.”
Both quarterbacks showed flashes of what they can do. When taking reps with the second team offensive line, which included just one scholarship lineman, the pass rush forced both quarterbacks to escape the pocket and throw on the run. Grier handled it well, targeting tight end DeAndre Goolsby, who finished with day with two catches for 40 yards, while on the move. Lewis was targeted by both quarterbacks and had four catches for 54 yards on the day.
The down moments showed up, too.
On the biggest play of the day, a 42-yard connection between Harris and Demarcus Robinson, the ball was underthrown and forced the junior receiver to adjust his route and make a highlight catch along the sideline. McElwain was also frustrated with Harris’ sense of urgency in the red zone.
Grier took the first rep of the game, but McElwain continued to downplay the significance of that.
“I think they probably took the same amount of reps with the one unit,” McElwain said. “I didn’t count it, but I'm sure that was the idea coming in. That’ll be a really good competition moving forward.”
Both quarterbacks have said throughout the spring that the battle for the starting job remains a friendly one. While that’s usually said during quarterback competitions, it actually looks to be the case with Grier and Harris. Grier finished up his interview first after Saturday’s game, but he waited in the back of the room until Harris was done. The two laughed about something before leaving the room at the same time and heading towards the locker room.
"It's not up to me,’ Grier said about the starting job. “I go out and play as hard as I can, try to lead the team and get better in this offense and do the best I can, try and develop. Like I said, we do have a long way to go, so there's a lot of room for improvement, a lot of things we've got to work on as a whole."