Can the Gators hold on to SEC lead with Harris under center?
Will Grier has been suspended for one year after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. The suspension comes just five days before No. 8 Florida’s matchup with No. 6 LSU.
Grier announced in a news conference that the positive test resulted from taking an over-the-counter supplement without checking with the team’s medical staff.
The redshirt freshman started five games for the Gators this season. Grier has completed 106-of-161 passes for 1,204 yards, 10 touchdowns and three interceptions. His three 200 yard passing games match the team’s total for all of last season.
With Grier out of the picture, Treon Harris will be starting this weekend. He started in week one for the Gators and will be asked to perform in one of the most hostile road environments, Death Valley at night.
As a freshman, Harris played in nine games, three of which were against top 15 teams. Also, he led Florida to a 38-20 upset over No. 9 Georgia. During his freshman campaign, he threw for 1,019 yards, nine touchdowns, and four interceptions while completing just under 50 percent of his passes.
Harris entered this season as the starter for the Gators but lost the job after being suspended for violating team rules. The sophomore quarterback has played in big games, but this may be the biggest one yet.
LSU boasts one of the nation’s top defenses, allowing 191.8 passing yards per game and just under 100 yards per game on the ground. This is not a good sign for a Florida offense that has struggled to move the ball this season.
Harris’s dual threat ability will add some versatility to the Florida offense. He ran for 335 yards and three touchdowns on 75 carries last season. Look for Florida to rely heavily on the read option with Harris and running back Kelvin Taylor.
His running ability could help a Florida rushing attack that ranks 101st in the nation. If Florida can find success running the ball, they can control time of possession and keep LSU’s star running back Leonard Fournette from getting on the field.
Much of Florida’s success has come from winning the turnover battle. The Gators rank eighth in the country with a turnover margin of +9. Harris threw three interceptions last season against ranked teams. It is crucial he break that trend Saturday.
Harris has not been the most prolific quarterback during his time at Florida, but he does have big game experience. If he survives this test against LSU, only one ranked team will remain on the schedule for Harris and the Gators.