QB battle far from over


Now that spring football is in the rearview mirror, here are some final observations:

  • The consensus among the sports writers in the press box Saturday was that redshirt freshman Will Grier was the better of the two quarterbacks in the spring game and likely will be the starter for the Gators this fall. I don’t agree. Not yet. To me, there was very little difference in the play of Grier and Treon Harris. They looked about the same and put up similar numbers. What helped Grier is the fact he got to open the game with the No. 1 offense, while Harris was saddled with the No. 2 group and that cast of walk-ons on the line in the first quarter. No quarterback was going to look good with that second-team offense, and Harris didn’t. But once he had a chance to get with the No. 1 group, he played much better and threw some really nice balls. Grier is slightly ahead at the moment, mainly due to the four practices Harris missed. These two will carry over their competition to August. One big thing in Harris’ favor is the fact that he’s faster and more elusive than Grier. Grier is also a good athlete who can buy some time with his ability to scramble, but he can’t do the same things Harris can running the football. With the line so suspect, the Gators may need to go with the QB who can do more with his legs. That would be Harris. We’ll see how it plays out. I don’t see Jim McElwain naming a starter until deep into camp in August, maybe even as late as the Monday before the opener.

  • I’m kind of tired of writing about (and talking about) the decimated offensive line. It is what it is — a mess. It will look a little better when six freshmen come on board this summer, but it’s going to be a huge area of concern throughout the 2015 season. Playing freshmen appears to be the only option. McElwain basically has ruled out moving a defensive lineman or two to offense. He said earlier this week that the coaches probably don’t want to mess with the playing rotation on the defensive line, which appears to be a solid two-deep, by moving someone to the offensive line. So, it will be sink or swim with the freshmen on the O-line.

  • The quarterbacks may not have enough time to find them, but the Gators do appear to have more playmakers on offense. Kelvin Taylor had a breakout spring at tailback. Brandon Powell was having the same kind of spring before he was sidelined by a foot injury. Demarcus Robinson appears poised to take his considerable game to the next level. And then there are the tight ends. Even with likely starter Jake McGee sitting out the spring game, it was obvious the TE position is going to be a big part of the passing game. C’yontai Lewis and DeAndre Goolsby both had a chance to show off their running and receiving skills in the spring game. The same position that produced nothing (except for some killer drops) last season could put up some huge numbers in 2015. Depth at tailback was an issue in the spring, but true freshmen Jordan Scarlett and Jordan Cronkrite will take care of that in the fall.

  • McElwain said Tuesday night that he’s early in the process of one-on-one meetings with all of his players, and that it’s too early to determine who might transfer. One player who may be looking to leave is defensive tackle Jay-nard Bostwick, who was excused from spring practice to take care of some personal issues. Bostwick has also struggled on the field since he’s been here. Now, he’s clearly fallen behind some of the other young defensive linemen, including Joey Ivie, Caleb Brantley, Taven Bryan and Khairi Clark. He’s one of the players who could be looking for a fresh start somewhere else.

  • The secondary is the antithesis of the offensive line — deep, talented, experienced, the strength of this football team. The Gators may have the best collection of cornerback talent in the nation with Vernon Hargreaves III, Quincy Wilson, Brian Poole, Jalen Tabor and J.C. Jackson. The coaches are also high on redshirt freshman cornerback Deiondre Porter. The Gators also look really deep and talented at safety with Keanu Neal, Marcus Maye, Duke Dawson and Marcell Harris, who really came on this spring. Overall, this secondary has a chance to be the best in school history.

  • The kicking part of UF’s special teams could be very good with Austin Hardin and punter Johnny Townsend. The only concern is the fact Hardin does not seem capable of knocking kickoffs into the end zone. So, getting touchbacks may not be an option for the kickoff cover team this season. “I was hoping that we had a kicker that could just bang it through the end zone. For whatever reason, we couldn’t (in the spring game),” McElwain said. “We’ve got to find somebody who can get the ball through the end zone on kickoffs.”