Treon Harris shows good and bad as Florida Gators' starter

After being lightly involved in Florida’s previous four games, Treon Harris took over the reigns of the Florida offense on Saturday at LSU.

BATON ROUGE, La. -- Harris isn’t the true drop back quarterback that Will Grier has been, and it showed on Saturday. But he also showed the elusiveness to keep plays alive, move outside the pocket and pickup yards on the ground when plays broke down.

The sophomore went 17-32 through the air for 271 passing yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. He ran the ball 13 times and gained 55 yards, including a long of 17 that was important on Florida’s first touchdown drive of the second half.

"He played a great game tonight,” Florida running back Kelvin Taylor said. “Treon, he read the coverages great. He also was a leader out there on the field. He took care of the ball, and he played a wonderful game. We believe in Treon. We're just going to build off this and just keep getting better and better.”

Because of the strong second half play, the Gators had two drives to tie the game late in the fourth quarter. Harris went 2-10 on those drives for 40 yards. One completion went for a loss and the other was a 41-yarder to freshman Antonio Callaway that moved the Gators to their own 49-yard line. But that’s the spot on the field where the game would end as Harris threw four straight incomplete passes.

There was indecisiveness at times in the pocket. The Gators started the game by using play action to push the LSU defense to one side of the field and have Harris roll out to the other side, creating easy dump offs and opening chances down the field. When he was moving, it also opened up the opportunity for his legs to be a factor.

Harris made defenders miss in the open field and even surprised some of the Tigers’ defenders.

“He is definitely a great quarterback,” LSU safety Jamal Adams said. “He didn’t look as fast on film, but in person, he can shift and is a smooth guy. He’s a great thrower as well.”

The Florida players said they trusted Harris in the huddle to lead the offense, and he didn’t look shaken by the environment. The sophomore is used to tough places to play. He came off the bench last season to lead the Gators to 10-straight points in a 10-9 win at Tennessee. Late in the season, he helped the Florida offense to a close loss at Florida State. He had starting experience and the players liked the way he looked in practice, giving them confidence that it would carry into Saturday.

There’s still work to be done for him, and he’ll have two weeks to look at it as Florida heads into its bye week before facing Georgia on October 31 in Jacksonville.

“The guy did a good job, man,” McElwain said of Harris. “He’s going to want some plays back, as a lot of our guys will on both sides of the ball. What you do is go learn from the video. As a teacher, you bring him in. You sit down, talk about what they saw, what we can do to correct it. And he’ll come back and play better next week.” 

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