Treon Harris was not asked to do much in Florida’s steamrolling win over rival Georgia in Jacksonville last weekend.
The training wheels came off Saturday night at Vanderbilt.
The freshman quarterback led Florida (5-3, 4-3 Southeastern Conference) to a 34-10 rout over the Commodores (3-7, 0-6) in Memorial Stadium, as the Gators previewed their future aerial attack under the former Miami Booker T. Washington standout.
UF overcame a pregame distraction and multiple offensive line injuries to win back-to-back games for the first time since 2012.
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In front of 35,191 — at least half clad in orange and blue — Harris was brilliant, finishing the evening 13 of 21 for 215 yards and a pair of rushing touchdowns.
“Very proud of Treon Harris and the way he played,” Florida coach Will Muschamp said. “We have all the confidence in him moving forward.”
A week after gashing Georgia for 418 rushing yards on 60 attempts, UF’s ground-and-pound offense was stonewalled early by the conference’s 10th-ranked rush defense.
Harris connected on several deep passes (for 48 and 60 yards) and avoided the costly mistakes (zero turnovers) that plagued former starter Jeff Driskel, who played for the first time since his benching after committing 12 turnovers in four games. Driskel rushed for a 1-yard score on fourth-and-goal plunge in the first half.
But the difference between the two quarterbacks was emblematic on back-to-back plays in the fourth quarter. Florida put Driskel in the game for a pass, and the junior was terrified to make a mistake, chucking the ball into the ground.
On the very next play, Harris scooted 33 yards for the game-sealing touchdown.
For the night, Harris hurled twice as many passes in the first half (12) as he did against Georgia. With a 17-7 lead at halftime, the Gators had more yards in the air (103) than they did on the ground (99).
“The thing that strikes me about [Harris] is [his] maturity,” Muschamp said. “He does not get fazed. He’s been accurate in practice. Nothing shocks me there, but carrying it over to the game has been outstanding.”
Florida mixed offensive personnel all night, spreading the ball around to eight different receivers. Seven different Gators ran the ball.
The offensive synergy worked, as UF slowly worked Vanderbilt into submission in the fourth quarter. UF finished with 211 rushing yards and four touchdowns.
Florida trailed 7-0 before scoring 24 unanswered points for the second week in a row.
The Gators avenged last season’s 34-17 loss, which ended their 22-game winning streak in the series. And coach Will Muschamp avoided becoming the first Florida coach to lose consecutive games to Vanderbilt.
Before the game, redshirt senior defensive tackle Leon Orr was sent home on a Greyhound bus after expressing displeasure over not being in the starting lineup for the fifth game in a row.
Vandy took an early first quarter lead on a 33-yard strike to tight end Steven Scheu, but Florida’s defense quickly bottled up freshman quarterback Johnny McCray.
McCray was harassed relentlessly by Dante Fowler Jr. & Co., as Florida’s defense yielded just 308 total yards and picked off two passes.