Florida quarterback Will Grier settled in and went 11-18 for 143 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions in the fourth quarter. For the entire game, Grier was 23-42 for 283 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
Despite the strong close and comeback win, Florida coach Jim McElwain didn’t name Grier his quarterback with Treon Harris returning from suspension this week. The depth chart released Monday afternoon listed “Will Grier OR Treon Harris” as the starter.
“We’ll see,” McElwain said. “We’ll see how it goes this week in practice. I thought Will did some real good things in the game, but there’s some things he’s got to get better at, too.”
The two touchdown drives in the fourth quarter looked like they could be enough for Grier to cement the starting job. However, McElwain brought up multiple times Monday the mistakes that were made during the first three quarters. Grier missed open throws, and although he didn’t do it as much as against Kentucky, he still tucked the ball and ran out of the pocket too early at times.
“Those two (touchdown) drives at the end are what he’s supposed to do,” McElwain said. “That’s what you do when you play the position. We practice it that way and he executed it. There were a lot of drives there that weren’t executed, so we’ve got a long ways to go. He knows it, too. He sees it on film and realizes how he can get better. There’s a certain expectation level that you need to have as a player. And there’s a lot of plays you want back. There’s a lot of great plays he made, but that’s part of the maturation process at being a quarterback.”
THE HONOR OF THE SOMBRERO
Deiondre Porter sported a big, purple sombrero during Gator Walk on Saturday. He didn’t lose a bet and wasn’t trying to attract the attention. Inside the Florida team, wearing the sombrero is seen as an honor.
McElwain joked that he isn’t exactly sure where it started, but the staff gives the sombrero to a player they need a big game out of. On Saturday, that was Porter. He was forced onto multiple special teams units and was the first cornerback on the bench behind Vernon Hargreaves and Quincy Wilson.
"Who knows how many plays they are going to play, but they need to show up,” McElwain said of the player with the sombrero. “We're having guys understand from a selfish standpoint, it isn't about how many plays you play. It's about the quality in which you play. And everybody on the team knows how important your role, your job, and how important you doing your job is. It's symbolic. In this particular case, he had some huge roles for us in that game. I'm proud of him."
OFFENSIVE LINE IMPROVING
The Florida staff knew this year would be a work in progress for the Florida offensive line. They didn’t expect it to grow up this fast. The unit played well on Saturday, giving Grier time to throw and opening up more holes for the running game than earlier in the season.
The challenges only get more difficult for the Florida offensive line in October, but McElwain likes where the group is headed.
“I was kind of proud of those guys,” McElwain said. “They really played hard. We were on edge a couple times. I thought we had opportunities on a couple of runs where maybe we could have stuck our foot a little better and helped our O-line, too. It’s a two-way street, but part of that goes back to matching your footwork with your O-line footwork in the run game. We still need to pay attention to that detail for us to be successful.”
MAYE STANDING OUT
Florida safety Marcus Maye continues to stand out for the Gators, especially in the run game. Despite being suspended for the season opener, Maye is second on the team with 26 tackles and has also improved in coverage this year.
His best game of the year came against the Volunteers. Maye was second on the team with 13 tackles, including 0.5 tackles for a loss, one pass breakup and a forced fumble. The coaches challenged him in camp to be a more productive player and Maye has responded.
“He’s sure taken to it,” McElwain said. “The game before, he made three (touchdown-saving) plays that were ready to get broken for big ones. This game was no different. He stopped their quarterback, Dobbs. Marcus is really playing well, and I think that’s attributed to his practice habits. It’ll be interesting to see if he can consistently do it, game in and game out. But certainly these last two games he’s done a heck of a job.”