The Florida Gators need players to emerge without Treon Harris, Jalen Tabor

The Gators will be without two players on Saturday.

Florida coach Jim McElwain announced that quarterback Treon Harris and cornerback Jalen Tabor won’t play against Tennessee on Saturday. 

“Based on some choices of a couple guys, they chose not to play in this ball game,” McElwain said after Wednesday’s practice. “It simply means we’ve got to have some guys step up. They’ll be back the following week. I’m excited for the opportunity for some other guys. They were choices, they weren’t suspensions. It hurts because we have a lot of guys that really care about this team. Some other guys will step up and play.”

With Harris out, Will Grier will start at quarterback on Saturday. The two have been battling for the starting job and alternated starts in the first two games of the year. Grier earned the start on Saturday at Kentucky, and despite McElwain saying both quarterbacks would likely play, Grier never came out. He finished the game 13-22 through the air for 125 yards, no touchdowns and one interception while adding a rushing touchdown.

Josh Grady, who is a post-graduate transfer from Vanderbilt, will serve as the backup quarterback. Grady has been taking reps at quarterback this week in preparation.

Grier will have an opportunity to take control of the quarterback battle on Saturday.

“He’s going to have an opportunity to run the ship,” McElwain said. “We knew we were thin at the position coming in. We’ve worked some special packages with guys back there playing quarterback that maybe aren’t traditional quarterbacks.”

Tabor has been an important piece of the Florida secondary to open the season. He started the first two games of the season but played a big role while coming off the bench against Kentucky on Saturday. He is sixth on the team with 10 tackles, adding four pass breakups and one interception he returned 39 yards for a touchdown against East Carolina.

The Gators will likely start Vernon Hargreaves III and Quincy Wilson at cornerback with Brian Poole in the nickel. Behind those three, redshirt freshman Deiondre Porter and true freshman Chris Williamson are the next cornerbacks on the depth chart.

“Where we’re going to get hurt a lot there is the depth and special teams,” McElwain said. “Deiondre Porter has to step up. He’s got to have a big game. I’m looking forward to seeing some guys play."

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