Florida coach Jim McElwain said the battle between Will Grier and Treon Harris remains too close to call. The Gators put the pads on for the first time on Monday, and while Grier has looked like clearly the better quarterback during sessions of practice open to the media, the first-year coach said he has seen positives from both.
“They both have had really shining moments,” Jim McElwain said after Monday’s practice. “They’ve both had some moments where you kind of scratch your head and wonder where that came from. It has been really good, I’ve liked the way both have worked with all the units because obviously as you know we match different segments with 1s, 2s, 3s, 4s, those guys have shared the reps with all of those.
“If you’re asking is there a separation yet, I haven’t really seen it.”
With the first five practices behind them, the Gators will head into two-a-days for the first time on Tuesday. This is the time McElwain has been waiting for, getting a chance to see how his quarterbacks will handle the work that is required at the position in camp.
Both Grier and Harris worked with their playmakers during player-run practices and the coaches believe the retention from the spring shows they’ve been working hard. But the key is how the offensive players respond to each quarterback. Even if they don’t have the strongest arm or the quickest feet, the Florida coach wants a quarterback that can make those around him better and elevate the play of the offense. That comes in things they do during a play, but it also involves what they do before the snap.
“Their command is what I’ve been really happy with, really good at indicating mics, needing to change it when maybe the center wasn’t right, taking control of the situation,” McElwain said. “We had a really good red zone area situation today. We’ve only had two-minute one time. Those are kind of those critical situations that we really need to see guys kind of step up in.”
To better evaluate, McElwain and his staff have stuck GoPro cameras to the helmets of Grier and Harris. It is aligned to show exactly where both quarterbacks are looking, helping the coaches teach and the players understand the expectation. Before the snap, the coaches want to make sure Grier and Harris have their eyes in the correct areas.
When the ball is snapped, the coaches are checking to make sure they are going through their progressions properly. They have the ability to sync up the GoPro footage with the cameras that shoot footage of practice from above the field. That allows the coaches to point to other areas on the field that the GoPro might not show if the quarterback’s focus is in the wrong place.
“It’s great to see and then you’re able to pull it, stack it behind the play and see exactly where their eyes are,” McElwain said. “It says a lot about your pre-snap line movement and where you’re looking. It’s one of those deals we’ve traded off, especially if someone is struggling with a certain part of it then they’ll probably wear it more that practice. Then the next guy will.
“It’s more of a confirmation for the student. It’s a teaching tool for the educator, it’s a confirmation for the student as you’re looking at the reps.”