NCF Nation: Treon Harris

Florida's trip to Birmingham, Alabama, for the aptly named Birmingham Bowl is more than just a trip for one final game, it's about making a good first impression with the new man in charge.

The embattled Gators' end to the 2014 season probably can't come soon enough for fans -- or the players, for that matter -- but it will serve as more than just a way to officially usher out the Will Muschamp era. This is the first major tryout for players in front of new head coach Jim McElwain. More than just pride is on the line for a team looking to get back on track with new leadership taking over at the conclusion of the game.

[+] EnlargeTreon Harris
AP Images/John RaouxNew Florida coach Jim McElwain will surely have his eye on the passing ability of Treon Harris this month.
McElwain won't roam the sidelines on Jan. 3, but he will be in attendance to watch what some of his future players have when the ball is live, especially on the offensive side. That's where most of the pressure is, and that's where most of the improvement has to come from once McElwain starts directing this team during spring practice.

For a team that could return just five starters on offense, Florida's game against East Carolina is an important one for players looking to revamp their careers under a more offensive direction.

Of course, it starts with freshman quarterback Treon Harris, who assumed the starting role in November after veteran Jeff Driskel failed to improve or win games. The young and very green quarterback has shown flashes of special ability here and there, but against better competition, Harris hasn't exactly been a world beater. Maybe that was because of perplexing conservative play calling in key moments, but, honestly, Harris the passer isn't as dangerous as Harris the runner. And if Harris is going to keep the starting job under McElwain's watch, he'll have to get that right arm going in a hurry.

That starts in Birmingham. Harris, who went 3-2 as a starter and threw for 896 yards and seven touchdowns, doesn't have to become an overnight passing sensation against the Pirates, but this is a chance for him to show his new coach some development from a little less than a month of work. The Harris who couldn't hit anyone late against Florida State won't win a starting job in a Jim McElwain offense. But Harris can prove that he's better than that and get a leg up on spring practice before getting a total reboot from the quarterback whisperer.

Then, you look at Florida's young receiving corps and running backs. All of them will be battling for jobs next spring with some veterans departing. Demarcus Robinson is easily the Gators' most talented receiver, but he needs to be more consistent and that will come with some help. This would be a great opportunity for Ahmad Fulwood and Chris Thompson to show something in a meaningful game. The same goes for seniors-to-be Latroy Pittman, who proved to be a safety net at times on third down this fall, and Valdez Showers, who never really found a role in Kurt Roper's offense.

As for running backs, the future definitely begins with Kelvin Taylor and Brandon Powell, who could compliment each other well in McElwain's offense.

Defensively, McElwain will likely just be interested in seeing what he has to work off of in 2015. Being an offensive guy, he probably won't spend extensive time on the other side, but when you're a new, offensive-minded coach playing to your strengths, it's good to know what chances you can and can't take because of the guys lining up on the other side. And with Florida possibly returning seven defensive starters, McElwain will have a little buffer to start with.

This game isn't the end all when it comes to impressing McElwain. Everything will change once he implements his plan, but the bowl game will provide McElwain with some good intel on the team he'll have once he's officially handed the keys to the program, and it's much better to start on the new boss' good side.

State of the team: Florida

December, 5, 2014
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Florida hasn't exactly been the titan of college football that we were used to seeing in the not-so-distant past, and the better part of the past four years hasn't been great for the Gators. The firing of Will Muschamp, who went 10-13 in his last two seasons, brings new order to Gainesville. That order starts with former Colorado State coach Jim McElwain, who will be working with a lot more than Muschamp first started with:

[+] EnlargeJeff Driskel
Rob Foldy/Getty ImagesQuarterback Jeff Driskel's future is uncertain as Florida brings in a new coaching staff.
Offense: The Gators have lacked any sort of substantial production at the quarterback spot, but could return as many as three quarterbacks with collegiate experience in Treon Harris, Skyler Mornhinweg and Jeff Driskel. Driskel is an interesting piece to the puzzle, because with an extra year of eligibility, he could transfer or pursue a Major League Baseball career. There is also redshirt freshman Will Grier, who arrived at Florida as the No. 3-rated dual-threat quarterback coming out of high school, according to ESPN's RecruitingNation. With Matt Jones declaring for the NFL draft and Mack Brown graduating, Florida returns junior-to-be Kelvin Taylor and sophomores-to-be Brandon Powell and Adam Lane. Taylor improved drastically from his freshman season, rushing for 565 yards and six touchdowns. Powell made an impact at both running back and as a receiver, and Lane should see an increased role at running back. Receiver needs a lot of development. Wide receiver Demarcus Robinson (team-high 47 catches for 774 yards and seven touchdowns) is Florida's best offensive weapon, but he has to be more consistent, and he needs help. Youngsters Ahmad Fulwood and Chris Thompson have potential, but neither made much of an impact this season. Florida will lose senior Quinton Dunbar, the Gators second-most productive receiver, and will have to see vast improvement from freshmen C.J. Worton, Ryan Sousa and Alvin Bailey. The offensive line takes a big hit, losing seniors Trenton Brown, Max Garcia and Chaz Green, and junior Tyler Moore, who declared for the NFL draft. Junior D.J. Humphries is also contemplating an early move to the NFL. Guys like Roderick Johnson, David Sharpe and Trip Thurman return with adequate experience from this season, but Florida's depth is lacking.

Defense: Florida's secondary returns the most talent for McElwain's staff to work with. The Gators only lose senior safety Jabari Gorman, but return a solid contingent of cover cornerbacks in Vernon Hargreaves III, Jalen Tabor and Quincy Wilson. Sophomore Keanu Neal returns as the Gators' top safety, and freshman Duke Dawson can play safety and cornerback. Marcus Maye and Brian Poole, who improved greatly this season, return to the nickel spot. Expect to see more from redshirt freshmen Marcell Harris, a special teams beast, and Nick Washington. Also, true freshman J.C. Jackson returns from a season-ending shoulder injury. The Gators lose seniors Neiron Ball and Michael Taylor, but could return senior-to-be Antonio Morrison, who is coming off his best season with the Gators and is considering a jump to the NFL. Florida returns good depth, starting with sophomores Jarrad Davis and Alex Anzalone. Redshirt freshman Matt Rolin could also have a bigger impact on the defense next fall. The defensive line will lose the defense's best player in end Dante Fowler Jr., along with starting nose tackle Darious Cummings, but could return junior tackle Jonathan Bullard, who is also flirting with the NFL. Ends Alex McCalister and Bryan Cox Jr. have the potential for bright futures, as do young tackles Caleb Brantley and Joey Ivie.

Special teams: The Gators went back and forth with their kickers, but lose senior Francisco Velez, who hit 12 of 14 field goals this fall. That means sophomore Austin Hardin (7 of 10), who finished the season as the starter, will have all eyes on him. Incredibly efficient punter Kyle Christy will be gone, but Johnny Townsend returns after starting ahead of Christy in 2013. Finding a return man to replace Andre Debose won't be easy. He had four kickoff returns for touchdowns and one punt return for a touchdown in his career.

Fan base: Gator Nation isn't happy. There was a toxic atmosphere within the fan base for the past couple of seasons because the product on the field just wasn't adequate. Is this fan base excited about McElwain's hire? That is to be determined, but fans have to be happy about the prospect of having some sort of real offensive pulse going forward. Obviously, fans want wins, and the Gators didn't deliver enough of those during Muschamp's tenure. These fans also want a competent offense, and that was clear when there wasn't a ton of buzz around the program during an 11-win 2012 season that featured a run-heavy, defensive Florida team.

Administrative support: Athletic director Jeremy Foley is one of the most loyal athletic directors out there. He stuck with Muschamp after an embarrassing 4-8 season for crying out loud. But he also knew exactly the direction his program needed to go in 2014, and it never went the right way. Foley isn't afraid to stand up for his coaches publicly, and he's always willing to work with his coaches to find ways to improve everything around them. He's one of the smartest athletic directors around, and Florida's athletic program isn't short for cash. The program has been incredibly successful under Foley's watch, and he will make sure his new coach is taken care of and put on the right path for success.

Recruiting: Florida's current recruiting class only holds nine players. Four are offensive linemen, who have to stay committed to the Gators going forward because of how thin that line will be in 2015. Two of those linemen -- Mike Horton and George Brown Jr. -- have visited other schools. The Gators also only have a couple of offensive skill players committed. Dual-threat quarterback Sheriron Jones is committed and will have to see if he works within McElwain's offense. McElwain has to snag some solid offensive talent to help the Gators in 2015, because Florida has somehow failed to sign elite offensive talent for years now. With Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris taking the SMU job, the Gators could get in on Clemson athlete commits Deon Cain and Ray Ray-Ray McCloud III, who have interest in Florida. Miami running back commit Dexter Williams has flirted with Florida before, and his family likes what Florida has to offer, so keep an eye on him. Uncommitted five-star offensive tackle Martez Ivey is still high on the Gators, and Florida is still looking at receiver Antonio Callaway, who was a teammate of Treon Harris' at Booker T. Washington High. Defensive ends CeCe Jefferson and Byron Cowart are also high priorities for McElwain.
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The simple answer for why things didn’t work out for Will Muschamp at Florida is the fact that he could never figure things out on offense.

For as great as his teams were at executing on defense, they were equally as bad on offense. Charlie Weis’ one-year offense did nothing. Brent Pease’s Boise State magic never made it to Gainesville. Kurt Roper’s explosive spread offense has been anything but that this season.

All that really needs to be said is that Muschamp lost two games when his defense allowed less than 120 yards of offense.

Whether Muschamp ever really got out of his own way when it came to offensive play calling or not, the truth is that there was never continuity. Having three offensive coordinators in four years didn’t help, but there was no creativity or adequate development on that side of the ball.

[+] EnlargeWill Muschamp
Kim Klement/USA TODAY SportsWill Muschamp built a great defense at Florida but could never find the offense to match.
While Muschamp signed some hefty defensive classes during his Florida tenure, he missed on a lot of offensive guys and never brought in the type of game-changers the Gators should be consistently reeling in with the school nestled in the middle of a recruiting hotbed.

For Florida not to sign more than one elite wide receiver or have any consistency at quarterback in four years is inexcusable.

But here Florida is. Muschamp is stepping down at the end of the season, and a program that won two national championships under Urban Meyer and was a consistent SEC title threat under Steve Spurrier in the 1990s is spiraling.

Even Ron Zook’s offenses had more of a pulse.

During Muschamp’s 27-20 run at Florida, the Gators have yet to finish a season ranked higher than 103rd nationally in total offense. Currently, the Gators rank 88th nationally in total offense, averaging a paltry 373.3 yards per game. They are 63rd nationally in scoring offense, averaging 29.3 points per game. Both are highs during Muschamp’s tenure.

While Florida’s offense has been statistically better this season, the losses have shown just how inept this offense has been for the majority of the past four years.

In Florida’s four losses this season, the Gators have averaged just 266.8 yards and 20.2 points per game. Conservative play calling with a talent pool lacking substance has continually kept the Gators from advancing.

Even in Muschamp’s most successful season -- Year 2 in 2012 that featured 11 wins and an Allstate Sugar Bowl appearance -- the Gators won with great defense and a power running game. Yet they still ranked 103rd nationally in total offense and scored only 26.5 points per game.

Bad misses on guys like Stefon Diggs (Maryland) and Nelson Agholor (USC) set Florida’s receiver corps back. Two current running backs struggle with blocking, and legitimate playmaker Demarcus Robinson isn't consistent enough but appears to be the only real receiving threat on the team.

Not having the right pieces in place in Year 4 is on the coaching. Not expanding the playbook or having more looks for your young quarterback at this point in the season is on the coaching.

Clinging to embattled quarterback Jeff Driskel for too long is on the coaching. Driskel showed strides in practice and other coaches have said he has NFL talent, but it never translated to the field.

Even in a new spread offense that was supposed to suit Driskel’s skill set better, the junior looked lost and regressed this fall. Bad losses at home to LSU and Missouri were mired in awful offensive execution that goes back to the quarterback position.

The move to freshman Treon Harris was appropriate but might have come too late. That temporary spark faded Saturday when a limited playbook led to an overly conservative plan that contributed to the final backbreaking loss against South Carolina.

There were no mass injuries to lean on. Muschamp had time to find his quarterback. The excuses are gone, and change is coming.

How Florida goes about this is crucial. This is an incredibly important hire for Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley, who has to bring in a more offensive-minded and established head coach. There needs to be a new, offensive-friendly philosophy in Gainesville, and coaches with real winning experience should clutter Foley's list.

Foley also has to sell more than just the notion that “This is Florida.” That no longer carries the weight it once did. The facilities aren’t up to par with a lot of other SEC schools, and name alone won’t win over a coach good enough to bring Florida back to relevancy.

Florida will have to dip into its wallet and improve the look of the program from the inside out. The funds are there, and Foley is smart enough to know he has a critical search on his hands as he looks to start a new chapter in Gainesville.
Will Muschamp’s decision to bench Jeff Driskel for Treon Harris had to be an emotionally difficult one for Florida’s head coach, but it’s proved to be the right move.

With the Gators floundering at 3-3 and regressing offensively, Muschamp had no choice but to replace his embattled redshirt junior quarterback for the true freshman, who has led the Gators into the SEC East Division race with back-to-back wins.

[+] EnlargeTreon Harris
Kim Klement/USA TODAY SportsFlorida has looked like a different team with Treon Harris at quarterback.
Harris has brought a spark to a Florida team that began the month in danger of missing a bowl game in consecutive years. But after routing Georgia by 18 and handling Vanderbilt by 24 on the road, there’s renewed energy in Gainesville, as the Gators have rallied around their new signal-caller.

“Sometimes it takes a drastic decision like that to get the team going,” senior center Max Garcia said.

Harris, who won back-to-back state championships at Booker T. Washington High School in Miami, is far from a savior, but there’s something about him that has invigorated this team. In the four games prior to Harris’ ascent, Florida averaged just 255 yards and 17.5 points per contest. In Florida’s last two wins, the Gators have averaged 437 yards and 36 points.

Harris has galvanized his teammates, who are playing better around their silent leader. Guys naturally gravitate toward the 5-foot-9 sparkplug, who is standing tall and slowly developing as more responsibility is thrust on his shoulders.

"Treon is a guy that has been overly coachable since he's been on campus,” Muschamp said. “He continues to work hard. He's a guy that the game comes easy to him.”

Harris certainly has a long way to go with his progression as a starter, but as Garcia sees it, Harris has pushed the team to play better. There’s more urgency because he’s so green.

The playbook was simplified for Harris against Georgia, leading him to throw just six times and the Gators to run for 418 yards. The playbook expanded some against Vandy, and Harris threw for 215 yards and six first downs on 13 of 21 passing. He also ran for 49 yards and two touchdowns, including a nifty 33-yarder in the Gators’ 17-point fourth quarter.

Muschamp says Harris has “it.” We saw “it” when he rescued the Gators from a 9-0 hole early in the season at Tennessee. We saw “it” when his first two collegiate passes went for 148 yards and two touchdowns. We saw “it” when he waved Muschamp off Saturday after taking a shot to his throwing shoulder.

“I went over, said, 'You all right?' He said, 'Go over and worry about someone else, I'm fine,’” Muschamp said. “That's part of the physical part of it, but also the mental side of it, the toughness aspect of it you've got to have at that position, especially here.”

“It” isn’t overwhelming, but it’s working.

“He’s just a playmaker,” Garcia said. “That’s just what he does naturally.”

While dangerous with his arm and legs, Harris’ best attribute might be how he deals with pressure. Florida offensive coordinator Kurt Roper said Harris does a great job of "not seeing" the pass rush while simultaneously seeing downfield and buying time.

What hindered Driskel so much was his incessant pressing against the rush or when things broke down. Harris has had better composure in those situations, extending plays more and not forcing mistakes.

“He has an incredible pocket presence," Garcia said. "He feels when the pressure is coming left or right.

“He’s so calm and his demeanor is something that I haven’t seen in a freshman. He’s so cool, calm and collected. It’s crazy to see.”

It’s really paid off on third down, where Harris has completed 9 of 15 passes (.600) for 120 yards. A few times against Vandy, Harris stood in the pocket and found receivers when the Commodores brought heat. He stayed relaxed and evaluated his options, like when he hit Quinton Dunbar for a 60-yard bomb on a play designed for an intermediate route.

For someone so young, Harris has an innate ability to avoid pressure, read defenses and go through his progressions.

“I think he enjoys playing so much that he doesn’t feel the outside pressures,” Roper said.

“Obviously, he understands the role, but I think he just goes and plays and doesn’t let the other things influence him.”

And here the Gators are, a win over South Carolina and some help away from a trip to Atlanta for the SEC championship game. There’s more cohesion, and Harris is a major part of that. It was a painful process to get to this point, but change has gone a long way.

“It’s unfortunate that we went through three losses to get to where we are now, but I have full confidence in this team and we’re peaking at the right time,” Garcia said.

“Now that we are producing on the field, like we are on the practice field and in the locker room, I don’t think anyone can stop us.”

SEC helmet stickers: Week 11

November, 9, 2014
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Separation Saturday lived up to its billing in the SEC with a shocking upset followed by an overtime thriller. It also provided plenty of memorable individual performances across the conference. Here are five who we think are most deserving of a helmet sticker.

Kyle Allen, QB, Texas A&M: He might only look 16, but Allen played a heck of a game on the road at Auburn in his first ever SEC start. The true freshman went 19 of 29 for 277 yards with four touchdowns and one interception. He was the primary reason the Aggies jumped out to a 35-17 halftime lead as he threw four touchdowns to three different wide receivers in the first 30 minutes. The offense got more conservative in the second half, but he still showed poise down the stretch, protecting the football in a hostile environment and helping his team escape with a 41-38 upset victory.

Cameron Artis-Payne, RB, Auburn: The loss stings, but Artis-Payne had a game to remember. The senior, who had rushed for over 100 yards in six of Auburn’s first eight games, eclipsed the 200-yard mark Saturday against Texas A&M. He finished with 30 carries for a career-high 221 yards and two touchdowns. He now has 1,190 yards on the season, becoming the 18th different Auburn player to rush for over 1,000 yards in a season. Had he gained one more yard late in the fourth quarter, the Tigers might have won.

Treon Harris, QB, Florida: Who says Florida can’t pass? A week after attempting six passes in the blowout win over Georgia, Harris went 13 of 21 for 215 yards on the road at Vanderbilt. The freshman quarterback also rushed for 49 yards and two touchdowns to help lead the Gators to a 34-10 win, their second win in as many weeks, but what stood out was Harris' accuracy. He showed he could make throws if called upon. It was easily the best performance of his young career at Florida, and maybe a sign of things to come for Gators fans.

Isaiah McKenzie, WR, Georgia: Take your pick from this game. Hutson Mason threw for 174 yards and four touchdowns. Nick Chubb rushed for 170 yards and a touchdown. But McKenzie was a human highlight reel in Georgia’s 63-31 win over Kentucky. The freshman wide receiver took the opening kickoff back 90 yards for a touchdown and later returned a punt 59 yards for his second score of the game. He is believed to be the first Bulldog in the modern era to do both in the same game. McKenzie finished with 187 all-purpose yards.

Blake Sims, QB, Alabama: It wasn’t pretty for three-and-a-half quarters, but when the game was on the line, Sims came through. The senior orchestrated a terrific drive in the final minute to set up a game-tying field goal at the end of regulation, and his touchdown pass to DeAndrew White in the first overtime session proved to be the game-winner in Alabama’s 20-13 win over LSU on Saturday. Sims finished 20 of 45 for 209 yards and two touchdowns, but it was his late-game heroics that stood out in a classic defensive battle.
Another eventful Saturday in the SEC. Here’s what we learned:

Bama is still alive but needs work: It wasn’t pretty, but Alabama’s playoff hopes are still intact after the Crimson Tide survived a thriller in Death Valley 20-13 in overtime. Despite a critical T.J. Yeldon fumble in the final minutes of regulation, the Tide were able to hold LSU to a field goal then benefited from a special-teams miscue as Trent Domingue booted the ensuing kickoff out of bounds. Blake Sims came up big by directing a game-tying drive then threw a picturesque pass to DeAndrew White for the game-winning touchdown in overtime. With No. 3 Auburn losing on Saturday, Alabama looks poised to move into the top four of the College Football Playoff rankings, and with No. 1 Mississippi State coming to town next week and the Iron Bowl in three weeks, the Crimson Tide control their own destiny. One thing is clear though: They can’t make the mistakes they did Saturday if they’re going to win out. Sims has to be better in the earlier portions of the game (he missed some open receivers), they can’t drop the football (Amari Cooper had one in crunch time) and surviving a late turnover like the one they had Saturday is hard to replicate against elite teams. They were fortunate to win Saturday; now they must turn the page and improve before the Bulldogs come to Tuscaloosa.

[+] EnlargeKyle Allen
Kevin C. Cox/Getty ImagesTexas A&M's Kyle Allen helped diminish Auburn's playoff hopes with a four-touchdown effort.
Auburn’s playoff hopes are likely done: There are a lot of quality one-loss teams remaining in the field; a second loss is a killer for Auburn -- especially coming at home to an unranked team that hadn’t played well since September. For a little bit, it looked like the Tigers would pull off some of the late-game magic that has become a signature trait of theirs in the Gus Malzahn era, but two late fourth-quarter fumbles squashed their hopes and left them with a 41-38 loss. “It hurts,” Malzahn said. “It hurts our team. We have goals and dreams, and we did not get it done tonight.” The turnovers on offense late were one factor, but there were others: the first-half defense was poor and the secondary was torched in the first two quarters. On special teams, an Auburn field goal attempt was blocked and returned for a touchdown to end the first half. The Tigers were sloppy quite a bit on Saturday and they paid for it in the end. Now the Tigers must turn around and head to Georgia next week and close out at Alabama in three weeks, so the road remains tough down the stretch.

No hangover for Georgia: If you thought the Bulldogs were going to let the upset loss to Florida affect them moving forward, think again. Mark Richt’s crew responded emphatically, jumping out to a quick three-touchdown lead in Lexington and rolling to a 63-31 win over Kentucky. Georgia had success in all three phases, rolling up 559 offensive yards, holding Kentucky to 139 passing yards on 16 of 31 attempts and scored two special-teams touchdowns -- a kickoff return (90 yards) and punt return (59 yards) for scores by Isaiah McKenzie. Nick Chubb had another great performance at running back (13 carries, 170 yards) and Hutson Mason threw for four scores. The Bulldogs still need help from Missouri in the form of a loss, but they’re still very much alive in the SEC East.

Treon Harris can throw it around: Last week, the Florida quarterback attempted only six passes versus Georgia but on Saturday, the Gators trusted their true freshman more and Harris delivered, completing 13 of 21 passes for 215 yards. There were no touchdown passes, but more importantly, no interceptions and Harris was accurate and showed off his deep ball with this 59-yard beauty to Quinton Dunbar. Harris did solid work on the ground, too, rushing for 49 yards and two touchdowns in Florida’s 34-10 win over Vanderbilt. The Gators need to continue to win and need help from others, but they still have a pulse in the SEC East race.

Kevin Sumlin can still pull a rabbit out of his visor: Texas A&M was a 23-point underdog going into Jordan-Hare Stadium, lost its past three SEC games, had a true freshman quarterback, a beat up offensive line and a defense with a lot of youngsters starting. All the Aggies did was jump out to a 35-17 halftime lead and hang on for dear life to upset the No. 3 team in the nation in its own house. Sumlin’s Aggies pulled off a similar stunt almost two years to the day when they went into Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and took down the No. 1 Crimson Tide 29-24 behind freshman quarterback and eventual Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel. Is Kyle Allen (four touchdown passes) the next star quarterback in Aggieland? It’s too early to say but he had a memorable performance on Saturday at Auburn and he gives the seemingly left-for-dead Aggies some reason for optimism in the final weeks of the regular season. Sure, Auburn made a lot of mistakes, but Texas A&M played better than it had in more than a month, showing flashes of the team that started 5-0 this season.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- How shocking was Georgia's defensive performance in Saturday's 38-20 loss to Florida?

The Bulldogs were so inept in giving up 418 yards rushing that defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt felt compelled to speak to the media after a game for the first time all season.

“I hadn’t been doing the media deal,” he told reporters outside Georgia’s locker room inside EverBank Field. “But you play like that and you need to come out here and look everybody in the eye and tell it like it is.”

He did.

[+] EnlargeMatt Jones
AP Photo/John RaouxFlorida's Matt Jones rushed for 192 yards against Georgia, and he wasn't even his team's leading rusher.
Pruitt didn't hold back in criticizing his defense after it gave up the most rushing yards in Georgia history since yielding 430 to Auburn in 1978.

Time after time on Saturday, Florida gave the ball to tailbacks Kelvin Taylor (197 yards and two TDs) and Matt Jones (192 yards, two TDs). Time after time, Georgia failed to get off blocks, take precise routes to the ball or tackle properly.

“They lined up and gave us a good ole butt-whipping," Pruitt said. "They run the power and the zone, things you see every day in practice.

"For four days, we probably had the best four days of practice that we’ve had all year. It’s a good learning lesson for us, because four days of practice doesn’t mean you’re going to play good on Saturday. You’ve got to bring the juice, and we didn’t bring it today. Florida did."

Head coach Mark Richt offered the same blunt assessment, saying, "They physically whipped us. That’s probably the best description that I can give you."

The obvious question for Pruitt, since he volunteered to take questions, was "How?"

The Bulldogs came into Saturday's game giving up an average of 105.1 yards a game -- good enough to rank second in the SEC.

Florida, on the other hand, came into the game ranked 96th in the nation and 11th in the SEC in total offense, averaging 368.0 yards. The Gators had the league's eighth-best rushing offense, averaging 169.5 yards a game.

"It’s a choice," Pruitt said three times for emphasis. "It’s a choice each individual has to make. ... People try to impose their will on the other team. Today they imposed their will on us."

There were few answers.

"We didn’t play well up front. We didn’t rotate well in the secondary," cornerback Damian Swann said. "And that’s what happens when you play a team that can run the ball very well."

Richt wore the disappointment plainly on his face. He and his coaches, the fans and the media -- everyone -- knew Florida's game plan would rely on the run game. True freshman quarterback Treon Harris was making his first start, and the wind was gusting up to 40 mph.

Harris finished with just three completions on six attempts for 27 yards.

“They didn’t have to really take many chances," Richt said. "They were able to keep the ball on the ground. ...

"We never put them in a position where they had to throw the ball, quite frankly, so I don’t blame them for only throwing it six times."

Even with a limited playbook, Florida found a way to flourish. Entering the game, the Gators had 64 plays of 10 yards or more on the season, second-fewest in the FBS. On Saturday, they had 16.

There was plenty of blame to go around on Saturday, and Pruitt promised to go back to basics in practice.

“We’re still dealing with 18- to 21-year-olds," he said. "You’ve got to keep the hammer down at all times. You can’t ever get comfortable.

"The big thing that we’ve got to do is first probably just give Florida credit. They whipped our tail today. They outcoached us. They outplayed us, all right?

"Ain’t nothing we can do but go back and look at it and fix it. And we’ve got to do it together."
It was another fun weekend in the SEC. Here's what we learned on Saturday:

Will Muschamp and the Gators have life: The Gators' 38-20 win over No. 11 Georgia (6-2, 4-2 SEC) means that Florida (4-3, 3-3) is still in the SEC Eastern Division race and Muschamp's seat in Gainesville has cooled a little. Florida's plan was to run, run, run, and the Gators did it better than they ever have under Muschamp, cranking out 418 rushing yards and 31 straight points. New starting quarterback Treon Harris threw it just six times, so the jury is still out on what he can do when forced to throw, but the Gators dominated Georgia in the trenches on both sides of the ball and were just tougher in every phase. There's no way Florida can stay in the East hunt with that sort of passing game, but it didn't matter with how well the Gators ran it. Beat Vanderbilt and South Carolina, and the Gators will be bowl eligible and right in the thick of the East race with some slip-ups from Missouri and Georgia. And how about Muschamp? Wanted to run, did it. Called a crazy fake field goal, watched it go for a game-changing touchdown. Before the game, people were prepping for his firing. Now he's earned more time at Florida. How long? Who knows? But the evaluation of Muschamp is far from over.

[+] EnlargeNick Marshall
Nelson Chenault/USA TODAY SportsQuarterback Nick Marshall proved clutch in Auburn's win over Ole Miss on Saturday.
There's something about Auburn: So that 35-31 win over No. 4 Ole Miss (7-2, 4-2) really could have gone either way, but third-ranked Auburn (7-1, 4-1) is starting to look eerily similar to the team that won the SEC and played in the BCS title game last year. The offense is churning out yards and points like crazy, and quarterback Nick Marshall is making clutch play after clutch play. And in the past two weeks, the Tigers have had a couple of things go their way. Last week, it was having two players wearing jersey No. 1 going unnoticed on the last play against South Carolina, which should have drawn a penalty. On Saturday, it was the incredibly unfortunate goal-line fumble by Ole Miss receiver Laquon Treadwell, who subsequently suffered what appeared to be a very serious leg injury. The defense certainly has its issues, but Auburn won in large part because of 248 rushing yards and some huge plays on third-and-long. It was an excruciating loss for Ole Miss, but the Tigers just have that feel to them again. It's a good team that's had a little luck to work with.

The ugly East is Missouri's to lose, again: It's no secret that the Eastern side of the SEC isn't great, but someone has to represent it in the SEC championship game. Oh, if only the West could send two teams to Atlanta. With Florida's stunning upset of Georgia, Missouri (7-2, 4-1) is now in sole possession of first place in the division. Even with how average the offense has looked for the better part of the season, the Tigers are winning and control their own destiny. The defense has been great of late -- carrying this team -- and held Kentucky's Air Raid offense to just 260 total yards in a 20-10 win. With the East struggling so much, Mizzou doesn't have to be great. A win is a win, and the Tigers have won three straight since getting crushed 34-0 at home against Georgia. After next week's bye, the Tigers go on the road for games at Texas A&M and Tennessee before closing the season at home against Arkansas. Those are all winnable games for the reigning East champs. Georgia, on the other hand, now has to regroup from getting pummeled by a reeling Florida team with a trip to Kentucky next week before hosting Auburn.

Growing pains continue at A&M: Where do you begin with the Aggies? Starting quarterback Kenny Hill has been suspended for two games for violating team rules and athletic department polices, but backup Kyle Allen struggled in his starting debut Saturday. He threw for just 106 yards with a touchdown and turned it over twice in a rough 21-16 win over Louisiana-Monroe. Outside of Speedy Noil, the receivers are playing poorly. The offensive line continues to struggle. The defense is a liability and is lucky the Warhawks had absolutely no threat of the deep ball in its passing game. With the Aggies playing so many youngsters, these issues are expected, but it's late in the season, and this team is getting worse. It isn't close to being the same caliber of team it was to start the year and now has to change the offense some with Allen starting. There's just no excuse for a team like A&M to let UL Monroe hang around with it at home, especially coming out of a bye week. Kevin Sumlin and his coordinators have a lot of work to do with Auburn, LSU and Missouri still left on the schedule.

Ole Miss' playoff hopes are all but lost: A second loss for the Rebels probably eliminates them from the College Football Playoff. Two losses is going to be hard to sell with the playoff committee. Ole Miss had already greatly surpassed expectations and came up just short against Auburn. But the season is far from over. The SEC championship game is very much in the picture, but the Rebels need help. They need to win out and see Alabama and Mississippi State lose two conference games so they'd own the head-to-head with both. They also need Auburn to lose two more and for LSU to lose at least one more so they'd both have three SEC losses. Go to Atlanta and win, and who knows what the selection committee will think of the Rebels.

SEC viewer's guide: Week 10

October, 31, 2014
Oct 31
10:00
AM ET
Ready for the weekend? Here's a glance at the SEC slate. All times Eastern:

Noon

Louisiana-Monroe at Texas A&M, SEC Network: This is what the doctor ordered for the Aggies, who are coming off a three-game losing streak, including their second-worst loss in school history (a 59-0 embarrassment in Alabama). Louisiana-Monroe won't be intimidated, because it has played two other SEC teams on the road this year (LSU and Kentucky). It will likely matter little. The thing to watch in this game is who starts at quarterback for the Aggies: Kyle Allen or Kenny Hill (it's sounding as though Allen will get the nod, his first after Hill started the previous eight, though A&M won't make the decision publicly known until its first offensive possession Saturday).

3:30 p.m.

[+] EnlargeTreon Harris
AP Images/John RaouxThe Gators turn to true freshman QB Treon Harris to break Florida's three-game losing streak against the Bulldogs.
Florida at No. 11 Georgia, CBS: Georgia is going for its fourth straight win in this rivalry and if the Bulldogs get it, it'll be the first four-game winning streak over the Gators in this series since 1983, when they capped off a six-game winning streak. And if they're able to, expect the Will Muschamp talk to only intensify. The Florida coach's days in Gainesville seem to be numbered. The Gators have made a quarterback change though, giving true freshman Treon Harris the start for this one. So that provides some intrigue for the Gators while the Bulldogs try to strengthen their hold on the SEC East lead.

4 p.m.

Kentucky at Missouri, SEC Network: This should be one of the most compelling games of the day. Kentucky is still seeking that sixth win to become bowl eligible for the first time since 2010. The Wildcats lost last week but competed admirably against No. 1 Mississippi State. Missouri is looking to stay within reach of Georgia in the SEC East Division race but the Tigers have been up and down this season. They've won their past two thanks to their defense and special teams but the offense has left much to be desired of late.

7 p.m.

No. 3 Auburn at No. 4 Ole Miss, ESPN: Make no bones about it, this is the game of the day (or night, rather). It's basically a College Football Playoff elimination game, as the loser would have a rough time trying to sneak back into the top four. Ole Miss is coming off its first loss, a 10-7 heartbreaker to LSU in Death Valley; Auburn had to shoot it out with South Carolina to escape with a 42-35 home win last week. You have Auburn, one of the league's premier offenses, going against Ole Miss' Landshark D. And two innovative coaches (Hugh Freeze and Gus Malzahn) who started from the bottom -- now they're here. Should be a blast.

Old Dominion at Vanderbilt, ESPNU: With no SEC wins and a rough first season for its new coach, Vanderbilt needs all the positives it can get. That means a win here would be nice, regardless of the fact that it's a nonconference game against a Conference USA team. The quarterback carousel continues for the Commodores as redshirt freshman Johnny McCrary became the team's fourth starting quarterback this year. Fortunately, he showed some signs of promise in the loss to Missouri, throwing two touchdowns, and will get the nod again, though Derek Mason noted Patton Robinette could see some time as he recovers from an injury. Old Dominion comes into this game having lost four straight.

7:15 p.m.

Arkansas at No. 1 Mississippi State, ESPN2: Mississippi State has been No. 1 for a few weeks in the polls, but it is in the driver's seat officially now, holding the No. 1 ranking in the first set of College Football Playoff rankings. The pressure will undoubtedly increase each week as the Bulldogs get closer; it will be compelling to see how the Bulldogs handle it. This week's challenge is Arkansas, a team still seeking its first SEC win of the Bret Bielema era but a squad that has given other SEC West foes headaches, taking Alabama and Texas A&M down to the wire. Mississippi State has won 10 straight; Arkansas' SEC skid is now at 16.

7:30 p.m.

Tennessee at South Carolina, SEC Network: Both teams are having a rough go at it this year but when these two met at Neyland Stadium last year, it was quite memorable. South Carolina came in ranked as the No. 11 team nationally but Tennessee pulled off a 23-21 win with a 19-yard field goal from Michael Palardy as time expired. Butch Jones did not publicly announce who is starting at quarterback for this game (Justin Worley, Nathan Peterman and Josh Dobbs are the options) and the Vols are still seeking their first SEC win of the season. South Carolina is looking to snap a three-game SEC skid and it's a wonder if we'll see some more fourth-down magic from Steve Spurrier, whose Gamecocks went 5-for-6 on fourth down last week.

Muschamp switches QBs to save season

October, 22, 2014
Oct 22
3:10
PM ET

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Too little, too late?

Florida coach Will Muschamp is fighting for his job and faces the gargantuan task of getting his Gators back on track before what could be a career-deciding game against Georgia on Nov. 1 in Jacksonville.

Muschamp announced Wednesday that true freshman Treon Harris will start at quarterback, replacing junior Jeff Driskel. It's an obvious move because there is little else this team can do to reverse the tailspin that dates back to the 4-8 season of 2013.

The discord has only grown this season, as Florida (3-3, 2-3 in the SEC) is looking at another dysfunctional offense and another poor record.

[+] EnlargeTreon Harris
Randy Sartin/USA TODAY SportsFlorida freshman Treon Harris, who will replace Jeff Driskel at quarterback, is 12-of-18 passing for 263 yards and three touchdowns this season.
Even legendary Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, as positive a voice as can be found in his role as an analyst for the SEC Network, criticized his alma mater's lack of heart and lack of identity on offense.

Muschamp agreed and said his players are circling the wagons.

"We've just tried to control the controllables. We repeat that to our players a lot," he said. "The things that we can control -- we need to play better, that’s the bottom line. We need to coach better. So those are the things we need to focus on -- improving ourselves and finding an identity offensively in what we can do and what we can do well.

"And block out as much as you can. You're going to hear it. That's part of it playing at a place like the University of Florida."

Irate fans booed Driskel and chanted "Fire Muschamp" during Florida’s 42-13 homecoming loss to Missouri on Saturday. Their frustrations boiled over as the Gators committed six turnovers after having three in each of the previous three games.

Muschamp said he didn't hear the chants but seems to understand what caused them, calling the game "an embarrassing performance, coaching-wise and playing-wise."

Under Muschamp's direction, Florida's offense has consistently ranked among the worst in the FBS: 105th in 2011 (averaging 328.69 yards per game), 103rd in 2012 (334.38 YPG), 115th in 2013 (316.7 YPG) and 101st through six games this season (368.0 YPG).

Florida’s offense has been going in the wrong direction this season, averaging 462.3 yards per game in the first three contests and 273.7 YPG in the last three.

"Fifteen turnovers in the last four games has been a killer for us," Muschamp said. "We can’t afford to turn the ball over. We've lacked production and explosive plays at the quarterback position. I think couple all those things together, we've struggled."

Hence the move from Driskel, who has completed 53.0 percent of his passes, to Harris, who has a completion percentage of 66.7.

The offense has rallied around Harris before. In fact, the 19-year-old led Florida to its only points against Tennessee and Missouri.

Now Florida players must rally to save their season, to save their coaches' jobs, and to save Florida's image.

"[Athletic director Jeremy] Foley said earlier that [Muschamp] is here and he's staying here," senior center Max Garcia said after the Missouri game. "We're going to play that way.

"We're not going to give up on him. We're not going to give up on the team. We don't have any quitters on this team."

Foley reiterated his support on Monday, saying he will continue to "evaluate the season as it plays out."

Muschamp, whose team has lost 10 of its last 13 and eight of its last 10 SEC games, said he appreciated the gesture and hopes team pride will turn things around.

"I think Jeremy sees a lot of the things that are going on in our program, and certainly a huge part of that is winning games, and that's not what we've done," Muschamp said. "But academically, socially, all the things we've done within our program in changing the culture have been outstanding."

Without positive results, will it be too little and too late for Muschamp?
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- In a battle of two SEC East teams coming off painful home losses last week, only Missouri showed up. The Tigers beat the Florida Gators soundly, 42-13, on Saturday night.

How the game was won: Florida just couldn't get out of its own way in a dysfunctional performance reminiscent of the 2013 team that went 4-8 and lost its last seven games. The Gators played two quarterbacks, starting junior QB Jeff Driskel, who had four turnovers (11 in his past 14 quarters) before being benched for true freshman Treon Harris, who had two turnovers of his own. Missouri wisely went into an offensive shell with just 119 total yards and didn't give Florida a chance to get back into the game.

Game ball goes to: The Missouri defense didn't have to do much more than let Florida self-destruct, but give credit to the Tigers for pressuring both Florida quarterbacks into enough sacks and turnovers to turn the game into a laugher and send the home fans to the exits early in the third quarter.

What it means: Despite their ugly shutout loss to Georgia, the Tigers still have life in the SEC East race. The same cannot be said for the lifeless Gators, who could have set up a showdown with Georgia but laid an egg. It was Florida's second straight homecoming loss -- the Gators were beaten by Vanderbilt last season -- and the natives are restless. There were loud boos for Driskel and chants of "Fire Muschamp."

Best play: There was so little offense and so little point to this game after the first quarter that the play of the game might as well go to the special teams. Marcus Murphy took the opening kickoff and ran untouched up the middle for a 95-yard touchdown. It accurately set the tone for the game. Murphy's return gave him six career TD returns, breaking a tie with Jeremy Maclin for the Missouri record. Murphy went on to score on an 82-yard punt return in the third quarter.

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What's next: Missouri (5-2, 2-1 in the SEC) hosts Vanderbilt next Saturday. Florida (3-3, 2-3) might spend its bye week dealing with intense questions about its head coach's job security.

Florida Gators QB Treon Harris accused of sexual assault

October, 6, 2014
Oct 6
1:25
PM ET

Florida Gators freshman backup quarterback Treon Harris is under investigation after he was accused of sexually assaulting a female student on campus early Sunday morning, the school announced Monday.

Harris has been suspended indefinitely for all team activities.

Read more on this story here.
Sorry, SEC East. This post just isn’t for you.

Sure, we learned about Georgia (Todd Gurley can do anything), Florida (Treon Harris should start) and Kentucky (these Cats are on to something). We even found out, once and for all, that South Carolina is a playoff fraud.

But in the end, it was in the West that we learned the most.

[+] EnlargeBrandon Holloway
Stacy Revere/Getty ImagesBrandon Holloway and Mississippi State showed they are SEC West contenders by thumping Texas A&M on Saturday.
1. You’ve got to Hail State: Welcome to the Mississippi State bandwagon, everyone. I’ve kept your seats warm for you this whole time. I understood how you were skeptical those first three games against nonconference cupcakes Southern Miss, UAB and South Alabama. I even got how you weren’t completely sold after the Bulldogs went on the road and beat LSU this past week. But if you aren’t ready to go all-in after the way State trounced Texas A&M, 48-31, on Saturday, there’s no helping you. Geoff Collins’ defense might be the best in the SEC. Did you see the way the front seven affected Kenny Hill and the Aggies’ passing game? Dak Prescott, meanwhile, is now a legitimate Heisman Trophy contender. I know you saw how he imposed his will against A&M and scored with his arm and his legs. With Prescott leading the charge and that defense behind him, there’s nothing stopping the Bulldogs from taking a shot at the division crown. It’s a radical idea, I know, but it’s time to start accepting this brave new world we live in.

2. A Rebel yell: Ole Miss didn’t play well for the better part of three quarters. Bo Wallace was doing his usual Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde thing, and the running game was practically nonexistent. The missed face mask call that resulted in a fumble return for a touchdown right before halftime seemed like the type of play that would decide the game. Ole Miss would fold under its own disappointment, and Alabama would come out in the second half and pull away. But then Ole Miss grew up. It wasn’t three quarters of maturation from the Rebs on Saturday night; it was three decades' worth. What Hugh Freeze has done is completely change the way Ole Miss thinks of itself. We saw that against Alabama. Wallace didn’t beat himself up after a few early mistakes; he got right back in the saddle. The defense, which fought valiantly with little help, never gave up in the 23-17 win. And when Ole Miss absolutely needed a big play, it got it -- twice. Wallace threw a game-winning touchdown pass, and Senquez Golson followed that up with a game-clinching interception. In doing so, Ole Miss proved it belonged. It proved, despite what we might think about football in the Magnolia State, these guys really can play.

3. Alabama isn’t dead: Take the emotions of the game out of it. Let’s think about this like the College Football Playoff selection committee might. Alabama lost to a team ranked in the top 15. It lost on the road. And it lost in the final few minutes. It lost a game in which its quarterback had a subpar performance; its most explosive weapon on offense, Kenyan Drake, was knocked out of the game in brutal fashion; and two starters, linebacker Denzel Devall and center Ryan Kelly, were sidelined with injuries. If there’s such a thing as a quality loss, this was it. It’s not quite Michigan State losing at Oregon, given that Sparty put itself out there scheduling that game, but it’s close. That’s little consolation to Alabama right now, but in a few months, it might mean something. The SEC West is a bear. Who really thinks a team is going to survive the division undefeated? If Alabama can get better play from its offensive line and secondary, what’s to say the Tide can’t get right back in it? A loss at Ole Miss isn’t going to be enough to keep them out.

4. Aggies allergic to defense: In the words of Kevin Sumlin: “What?!” He ought to go up to every defensive player in the locker room and ask that question in a much more hostile tone than he’s become accustomed to. Because the Aggies have no defense, that’s what. Mark Snyder was supposed to coax some improvement out of a defense that was the worst in the SEC the past season, but that hasn’t happened. Players are too often out of position. Tackles too often go missed. Quality execution is too often a foreign concept. The excuse of inexperience has grown tiresome. Go look at the past few recruiting classes -- there’s talent there. It’s time Texas A&M takes a long, hard look in the mirror and decides what it wants to be. Because as out-of-sorts as Hill and the offense looked against Mississippi State on Saturday, they weren’t the problem. You have Myles Garrett. You have Deshazor Everett. It’s time you have some semblance of a defense.

5. And then there’s Auburn: No one is talking about Auburn, and that’s probably the way Gus Malzahn wants it. But week after week, the Tigers keep winning. Forget that Nick Marshall hasn’t become Joe Montana. Forget that the win at Kansas State wasn’t pretty. Forget it because it doesn’t matter. Style points mean nothing. If Saturday showed us anything, it’s that surviving is all that matters. Alabama wishes it could have done that. So do Oregon and Oklahoma. Auburn, for all its supposed flaws, is undefeated and in line to move into the top 3 in the polls. If you don’t think Auburn is good enough to win the West again, I don’t know what to tell you. LSU might not be the team we’ve become accustomed to in recent years, but it’s still LSU. All Auburn did was beat the Bayou Bengals like they stole something. The 41-7 win might not grab the headlines like Ole Miss' and Mississippi State's wins, but it counts the same.

Florida stumbled and bumbled for most of Saturday afternoon, but it rallied late to beat Tennessee 10-9 and extend its winning streak in the annual rivalry to 10 games. Here is how it happened:

How the game was won: The Vols didn't have to do much for their 9-0 lead through three quarters, as Florida was as inept as ever on offense. Quarterback Jeff Driskel threw three interceptions, but his receivers were as much to blame with several drops and tipped passes. Just before the third quarter ended, Florida coach Will Muschamp went to true freshman Treon Harris, who provided an immediate spark and led the way to 10 unanswered points.

Game ball goes to: Harris gave the Gators a lift, but running back Matt Jones did the heavy lifting. The junior plowed through a Tennessee defense that routinely stacked the box. He finished with 23 carries for 114 yards and a touchdown. Jones also led all Gators receivers with four catches for 19 yards.

What it means: Florida fans had their pitchforks ready in case of another ugly loss, but Muschamp made the critical switch at quarterback in time to save the day. The defense might get overshadowed by the quarterback controversy, but the Gators held the Vols to 233 yards, 145 below their average. There is no moral victory for the Volunteers, who lost another winnable game. Tennessee had three turnovers and committed critical penalties at the wrong times. There is still a long way to go on Rocky Top before Tennessee learns how to win games.

Best play:

video


With 51 seconds left in the game, Florida safety Keanu Neal sealed the win with a fingertip interception. Vols quarterback Justin Worley had driven Tennessee to Florida's 48-yard line looking to set up a go-ahead field goal. He overthrew slot receiver Pig Howard, who had beaten Florida's Marcus Maye. Neal scooped the ball inches off the turf, and the Gators began to celebrate.

What's next: Florida (3-1, 2-1 SEC) plays LSU at home next Saturday and will spend the week deciding whether to give Harris his first start at quarterback. If so, he might match up against fellow true freshman quarterback Brandon Harris. Tennessee (2-3, 0-2) stays home to face Chattanooga. The Vols have to go back to the drawing board and figure out how to improve in clutch situations, as reaching six wins and going bowling for the first time since 2010 is in doubt.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- It's not an easy time to be Jeff Driskel.

The noise in the system is reaching a crescendo after another dismal performance in a big game. The latest misstep was Saturday's 42-21 loss to No. 3 Alabama in which Driskel completed 32 percent of his passes (9 of 28) for 93 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions.

By now Driskel has seen or at least heard about Emmitt Smith's tweet calling for the junior QB to be benched.

Smith was just one voice in a chorus of former Gator players ready for a change at QB.

Heck, even Driskel's favorite target, sophomore wide receiver Demarcus Robinson, was caught expressing his displeasure in the form of a damning retweet:



Everyone it seems is ready for a new face at quarterback after three-plus seasons of Driskel at the controls. Even Driskel's most important supporter, coach Will Muschamp, admitted he thought about turning to true freshman backup Treon Harris during Saturday's rout.

"I did [consider a change], but Jeff gives us the best opportunity right now," Muschamp said after the game. "For us to win a football game like that, Jeff Driskel needs to play.

"As we move forward we need to play better at that position and a bunch of other positions, so we will evaluate that."

The Gators (2-1, 1-1 in the SEC) have nearly two weeks to evaluate before a critical game at Tennessee that could have a big impact on Muschamp's future as coach.

Before the season started, Muschamp said it was important to develop backups at the quarterback position. He was mostly referring to UF's two true freshmen recruits who were both among the top-10 prospects in the country last year.

Despite arriving on campus months after Will Grier, Harris won the No. 2 job in preseason camp and had a spectacular debut in Florida's season opener.

Still, this is a teenager who has thrown just two passes at the collegiate level.

After Florida's shaky triple-overtime win against Kentucky during which Driskel struggled mightily in leading the Gators to just three first-half points, Muschamp said he didn't think about putting in Harris.

He does, however, believe Harris has the ability to play this season.

"Absolutely," Muschamp said two days after the UK game. "And we have a plan every week for him in some situations to come in and play. Absolutely.”

It didn't happen against Alabama despite Driskel's ineffectiveness, and now the same noise on Twitter that has called for the starter to sit has led to a #FreeTreon hashtag.

One thing is certain -- it's gotten very difficult to defend Driskel, internally that is.

He's last among SEC starters in QB rating (111.1) as well as yards per attempt (5.5). His work on third downs this season is particularly telling. He's completing 42 percent of his passes (13 of 31). On eight third-down passes in Saturday's loss, he completed more passes to Alabama (two interceptions) than Florida (one).

"I didn't get it done," he said afterward.

He's as frustrated as any of his teammates, but Driskel is in a leadership position. All eyes are on him and he knows there's still a long season ahead.

"We're not going to hang our heads and we're going to continue to work to improve," he said "...Going into the bye week, we're going to have to shore some things up."

It starts at quarterback.

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