Jim McElwain has analyzed the film, and the Florida Gators coach is no closer to naming a starting quarterback before this weekend’s game against East Carolina (1-0).
The Gators (1-0) routed the New Mexico State Aggies 61-13 in Saturday’s opener, as both Treon Harris and Will Grier held serve in a competitive quarterback competition.
Each efficiently piloted four touchdown drives against the Aggies, offering flashes of brilliance and moments of inexperience.
“Both guys played well,” McElwain said. “Both guys had mistakes. But that’s part of playing, that’s part of learning. And yet here’s the good thing: they’re all correctable mistakes. They’re not fatal flaws. Both guys moved the team.”
Harris, a sophomore from Booker T. Washington, started the game and played the opening three series. Grier, a redshirt freshman, entered in relief and led the next six straight possessions. Afterward, the pair finished with similar stat lines, as both tossed a pair of touchdowns, completed 74 percent of their passes and displayed elusiveness in the pocket (Harris, 23 rushing yards; Grier, 44 rushing yards and a touchdown).
The quarterbacks completed passes to 14 receivers, too.
“I liked the fact that there were a lot of people in the box scores as far as touching the ball,” McElwain said. “That’s a credit to both quarterbacks taking what the defense gives them. Not just looking for one guy to throw it to them, and I think it showed a maturation in both of those guys’ cases going through their read progressions getting it where it needs to go.
“There’s some really good things to build on.”
And some areas still need work.
Grier had the team’s lone turnover — a fumble on a busted protection. Meanwhile, Harris threw two questionable passes in the red zone late in the game. McElwain also lamented some communication issues, including “sloppy” signal-operation from the sideline to the huddle.
Still, Saturday’s results were largely positive, as neither quarterback did enough to outright win — or lose — the job.
“Both quarterbacks had moments that were really good,” McElwain said.
“I thought Treon showed some escape-ability and created big plays down the field, extended plays. I think that’s a real positive. I thought what Will did was come in with that two-minute drive right there before half, which actually was really big, and what I mean by that is we gave up a score and we answered.
“And what that shows me is a little bit of resolve. We overcame some negative plays.”
Florida’s coach suggested the Gators could potentially flip the script against the Pirates, starting Grier and bringing Harris off the bench.
“It’s something we’ve talked about. We’ll kind of look into that,” McElwain said. “We’ll play both like we did last week. I’m sure it will be similar.”
The question remains how long McElwain plans to stick to a two-signal-caller rotation.
In recent stops at Fresno State, Alabama and Colorado State, McElwain settled on a definite starter following a cupcake opener.
Not this time, though.
The audition continues.
With conference contests against Kentucky, No. 24 Tennessee and No. 17 Ole Miss looming, McElwain could give either Harris or Grier the nod sometime after Saturday’s game, but he won’t rush into any decision.
“There isn’t any blueprint or book that says this is how you have to do it,” he said.