By Anthony Caruso III
The Michigan Wolverines showed the world that the Florida Gators desperately needs a quarterback. Treon Harris, who was put into the starting quarterback position back in October, is clearly not the answer.
He had a 4-4 record, including a blowout loss to the Wolverines in the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl, since replacing Will Grier, who was suspended for one calendar year following the Missouri Tigers game due to taking an illegal performance-enhancing drug. He would later transfer out of the program with his new destination yet-to-be determined.
Harris, who just completed his sophomore season, went 8-of-21 for 146 yards and an interception against the Wolverines. He made several costly mistakes that hurt the Gators, who dropped to 10-4 with the 41-7 loss.
He’s expected to be back with the team for his junior season in 2016. However, since he replaced Grier, the offense has drastically declined in head coach Jim McElwain‘s first season.
In the past six games, including the bowl game, the offense averaged 13 points per game – which included three games with less than 10 points and 24 points in the final three contests. In the first two games after Harris took over, the Gators scored 55 points in a loss to the LSU Tigers and a win against the Georgia Bulldogs.
Harris is not the best fit for the offensive system that McElwain and offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier runs with the Gators. They use a pro-style offense, which is better for a quarterback more like Grier than Harris, who is more of an option-based quarterback.
“You need to look a little bit at me and what I’m asking him to do, and trying to push the envelope a little bit,” McElwain said about Harris before the SEC Championship game, a 29-15 loss to the Alabama Crimson Tide, according to the Palm Beach Post. “That’s how we’re going to be offensively as we continue to grow. (Treon has) probably handled and done as good a job with his skill set.”
There’s already speculation that Harris may transition to a new position in 2016 if he’s not the a quarterback. Running back and safety are the two positions being mentioned that he could switch to, or even transfer to another school – like Grier.
He applied to the NCAA about getting immediate eligibility, but they declined his request. He worked with the Gators coaching staff during the summer, before the collegiate governing body made the decision.
The 6-foot-1, 216-pounder is the best fit right now to be the team’s quarterback moving forward. He’ll just be buying time for the Gators until he’ll be replaced by either Feleipe Franks or Kyle Trask, two incoming freshman, down the road.
Del Rio has been well traveled before arriving in Gainesville, Florida. He began his journey has a walk-on with the Crimson Tide, before transferring to the Beavers.
During the 2014 season, he was the back-up to Sean Mannion. He completed 8-o-f-18 for 141 yards when he saw action.
Del Rio, who was the 2nd overall quarterback rated by ESPN out of Colorado, when he was in high school. With the Valor Christian High School Eagles, he threw for 2,275 yards with 28 touchdowns to four interceptions.
Both Franks and Trask, who are both enrolling at the University of Florida this month, will need some time to develop. Depending on how long that’ll be, Del Rio should be leading the shots as the Gators look to compete for a National Championship next season.
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