University of Florida

Florida Gators coach after second scrimmage: ‘No clear separation’ in QB competition

UF quarterback Will Grier.
UF quarterback Will Grier. AP

Florida’s second scrimmage of training camp featured three touchdown passes, a trio of interceptions, one potentially worrisome injury and an unnamed defensive tackle getting ejected.

All in all, Gators coach Jim McElwain thought Friday’s proceedings were just OK.

“We had a lot of guys who really came out ready to play. I liked that, however, we did have some guys that we got to make sure every time we come out of the tunnel, we’ve got to be prepared to go,” he said. “I don’t think we were as sharp in this scrimmage. I could see maybe some dead legs. Probably natural. … But that really can’t be an excuse when we take the tunnel, when we take the practice field, whatever it is we’ve got to be ready to go.”

Unlike UF’s first scrimmage a week ago, McElwain was able to at least sleep the night before,. and he walked away pleased with the way Florida’s quarterbacks controlled the offense.

Will Grier and Treon Harris continue to battle for the starting job, and because consistency remains an issue, McElwain hinted a decision could loom into Florida’s season opener.

“Both quarterback’s moved the one’s real well. I thought Treon probably moved the two’s a little more effectively,” he said. “Will probably had a better situational part of the scrimmage with both units.

“Those two guys are progressing. No clear separation yet. And that’s OK. That’s all right. They’re competing. They’re working. … We’ll be OK if we go into [the opener] and kind of play and go from there and see who plays under the lights the best.”

Florida didn’t provide any official statistics for the closed scrimmage, but a number of players recounted the highlights: Sophomore cornerback Jalen Tabor recorded an interception, as did All-American defensive back Vernon Hargreaves III and redshirt freshman corner Deiondre Porter.

Chris Thompson and Demarcus Robinson both hauled in touchdowns, and defensive end Bryan Cox said the front seven had “a couple of sacks.”

“The scrimmage went real well. A lot of energy on defense and the offense made some plays as well,” Tabor said. “I feel like we’re coming together as a team.”

Still, not all of Friday’s proceedings were positive.

Starting safety Keanu Neal exited the scrimmage with a leg injury and did not return.

McElwain offered little details of the junior’s injury, only saying he doesn’t believe it’s serious. Even so, he acknowledged Florida’s stacked secondary is suddenly “thinning” with Neal’s injury and fellow starting safety Marcus Maye’s one-game suspension.

“Some young guys are going to have to step up a little bit,” he said.

Meanwhile, an unnamed defensive tackle was tossed from practice for committing an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. McElwain expressed his frustrations over the incident, even taking a swipe at former coach Will Muschamp and UF’s lack of discipline the past several years.

“I kicked [a player] out of the scrimmage. That’s not how it works. He’s gone. That’s the way it is. Those are the unforced errors that have been the Achilles’ heel for a long time around here,” McElwain said. “I’m tired of it. If that’s the way you’re going to act, go sit on the bench. Somebody else can play. I was very upset about that. … We’ve got some behavior that we’ve got to keep working on.

“What are we? The most penalized team in the last five years, six years, whatever it is? I don’t know where we sit. It’s ridiculous.”

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