Redshirt freshman Will Grier will make his first career collegiate start for Florida against East Carolina on Saturday, the program announced Thursday. Grier gets the call in a reversal of Jim McElwain's decision to start sophomore Treon Harris in the Gators' opener against New Mexico State.
McElwain had hinted that Florida was likely to maintain a two-quarterback system in its meeting with the Pirates earlier this week, potentially flipping the script from the Gators' opener. Despite Harris starting, Grier and Harris split time against the Aggies, with Harris playing for seven series prior to and after Grier stepped under center for 10 consecutive possessions.
Harris completed 14 of 19 passes for 216 yards and two touchdowns against New Mexico State, also rushing for 23 yards on five carries, while Grier completed 16 of 18 passes against the Aggies for 166 yards and two touchdowns, adding 43 yards and a touchdown on four carries. The performances placed both players among the top 20 nationally in passer rating, but sentiment among fans has largely held that Grier slightly outplayed Harris, especially as a thrower — an assessment backed up by a play-by-play analysis of their efforts.
Expect Florida to rotate Grier and Harris against the Pirates much like the QBs were rotated against New Mexico State, with both potentially getting a greater share of the playbook opened to them. But this may also be a final audition for the starting job: McElwain hadn't previously allowed a quarterback battle to go past a first game as an FBS offensive coordinator or head coach, and it's likely he'll want an established starter for Florida's SEC opener on the road against Kentucky.