Jim McElwain knows Florida Gators’ Treon Harris has to improve

The statistics weren’t pretty for Florida’s passing game on Saturday.

Treon Harris went 12-24 through the air for 158 yards, no touchdowns and one interception. However, Florida coach Jim McElwain pointed to protection issues after the game as an important reason Harris was inaccurate.

The offensive line was porous on Saturday, struggling to open holes in the running game or protect when Harris dropped back. McElwain, a former quarterback during his playing days, understands what comes with the position. When the offense is rolling, the quarterback gets all of the praise. When the offense struggles, the quarterback gets all of the blame.

“The thing that everyone needs to know, this is the beauty when you are the quarterback -- it's everything, 'you're the greatest, or you're the issue of the world.' What they don't understand is that there is 10 other guys out there on every given play, hopefully,” McElwain said. “But there's 10 other guys who are responsible to do their job. And if you don't do your job, the guy who usually gets all the criticism, is (the quarterback).

“Now we signed up to do that, and that's cool, that's part of it. But I think the understanding is the importance of what everybody else is doing around him. We've got to get better in some of those spots as well."

Just as the blame wasn’t completely on Harris, it also wasn’t completely on the offensive line. The sophomore quarterback lost a fumble and threw an interception during the game, and he also missed multiple open throws when the offensive line was able to protect.

"He's done some really good things and he's done some things that he'll continue to need to work on,” McElwain said. “The one thing I will say about him is he's doing some things to help us win ballgames as well. This was the first game all year really where we were on the downside of the turnover part. And yet, to win a game with four turnovers, that stuff doesn't happen. You got to have a little resolve. I think our guys did that. It's a work in progress.”

HARDIN BUILDING CONFIDENCE

McElwain is hoping Saturday’s 43-yard game-winning field goal will help Austin Hardin reach his potential. Watch him handle kickoffs and the potential is hard to miss. He has a strong leg, consistently booming the ball through the end zone. But when he has lined up for field goals, Hardin struggles.

“I think your confidence is just like you’re a shooter and you make that shot and you feel pretty good about the next one,” McElwain said. “Now it’s just continue to work through that process. He was going to kick the deep ones and (walk-on Neil MacInnes) was going to kick the short ones. He’s done a great job kicking off, obviously. That’s been a weapon for us. We just got to continue to do that.”

WORKING WITH ROBINSON

McElwain said that receiver Demarcus Robinson has come “farther than anyone” on the football team since the new staff showed up in Gainesville. That may not show up in the statistics as he’s on pace for fewer receiving yards than last season, but McElwain is happy with his attitude and love for practicing.

“He played his tail off in that game, and it showed. I guess the greatest thing is he’s seeing he can. But really, it’s his choice. As I’ve told all the (NFL) scouts, this guy has come farther than any guy in our program, and I’m proud of him.”

CHATTING WITH SPURRIER

McElwain has spoken “a couple times” with Steve Spurrier since the legendary coach stepped down at South Carolina. Spurrier said on Monday that he won’t be present for Saturday’s game in Columbia, instead electing to stay away and let the interim staff run its program.

The former Florida coach called McElwain to congratulate him when the Gators beat -- of course -- Georgia.

“That means a lot,” McElwain said. “It did. I enjoyed it. I look forward to this getting out of the way and then where I get in and really pick his brain. That guy's a Gator, man." 


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