Coach Jim McElwain pointed to Sunday as what could be the turning point. The Florida coach called the day “as good a back-to-back practices as I’ve ever seen.” When asked what role the quarterbacks played in that, McElwain said their strong day provided a spark.
“I think we showed a lot of little spurts of being really, really good,” Will Grier said. “I think it did build some confidence yesterday, but we've just got to keep that energy, keep that excitement about the game like we had yesterday, keep that rolling moving forward and we'll continue to get better and build confidence. But it's definitely coming. At all positions we're starting to click, starting to get better."
Grier and Treon Harris, the two quarterbacks battling to start at quarterback for Florida, started to get the hang of the offense in the spring. McElwain and offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier brought a pro-style scheme after the offense sputtered through a spread last season. The two quarterbacks went through the installation process in the spring but have truly started to understand the offense this fall. Every day of practice has built more confidence under center for Grier.
"We're just playing with each other more, starting to get timing down, things like that,” Grier said. “Starting to get comfortable with the guys, comfortable with the offense, stuff starts clicking. That's what practice is for. However many practices deep, I'd hope we'd start getting better throwing and catching."
Grier called the offense a good fit for both him and Treon Harris as the two continue to battle for the starting quarterback role. Both quarterbacks say their relationship has remained close off the field while the quarterback battle that started in the beginning of the spring continues into the second half of fall camp.
McElwain insists that both quarterbacks have had their moments in practices and during Friday’s scrimmage, but both quarterbacks downplay the pressure that comes with the competition.
“We don’t feel pressure,” Grier said. “We’re aware. We’re two very focused people. We’re trying to make this team better, trying to get better. I guess pretty strong leadership and control what we can control. It’s all we can do.”
The Gators will have to lean on multiple inexperienced players, especially on the offensive line and at quarterback. The learning process for Grier has been happening at the same pace it is for many of the offensive linemen that will be trusted for the first time in their Florida careers. With Trip Thurman serving as the only returning offensive lineman to ever start a game at Florida before this season, it puts more on the quarterback to makes sure the unit is set and understands what is going on before the play.
“Our communication has gotten a lot better,” Grier said. “The big thing is making sure me and the center and the rest of the line are on the same page communicating with them. Like I said, it’s coming a long way and we’re a lot better with that now. We’re getting deep into camp and we’re doing a lot of things better. That’s one of those things that we’re better at, but we’ve got to keep the pedal to the metal and keep going forward with this.”
Even with the inexperience on the offensive line, Grier has been impressed with the group so far.
“They’ve been moving guys around, a lot has been thrown at them,” Grier said. “Our defense is throwing all kinds of fronts and different blitzes and stuff. Our defense is doing a really good job of the mental aspect of it. Basically, it’s coming along really well, too. We’ve just got to continue working with those guys. I’ve been really impressed with that group. They’ve done a really good job.”