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Florida vs. East Carolina: Will Grier maintains slight lead on Treon Harris in play grading

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Our second week of grading Florida's QBs reveals a tighter battle.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Florida's Will Grier and Treon Harris are still among the nation's top 20 quarterbacks by passer rating. (Harris doesn't appear there because he hasn't thrown enough passes to qualify, but his 178.50 passer rating would rank him 15th nationally.) And the Gators are 2-0 because both QBs have done enough to win games despite a sometimes leaky defense.

But after Grier outshined Harris just slightly in a game against New Mexico State that Harris started, both passers came back to earth, if only slightly, against East Carolina.

As I did last week, I'm grading Grier and Harris on plays that weren't just handoffs against the Pirates, using the playcut videos compiled by and provided to Alligator Army by the invaluable libgator. I've embedded the videos above each play table so you can follow along, though the best way to do that is probably popping out the video into a different window and letting it play beside the table.

A couple of minor differences this week: After grading Grier first last week, and wondering if I went slightly harsher on Harris as a result, I graded Harris first this week, to let him sort of set the curve; after not grading one throw called back for a whistle last week, a couple of those (which turned into full plays) are assessed here. (Grier's table comes before Harris's because a) alphabetical order and b) he got more snaps.)

Will Grier Play Table vs. East Carolina

Situation Result (Target) Good Decision? Throw Grade Notes
2nd & 6, UF 21 Sack, nine-yard loss N/A N/A Primary read appears off-screen, so it's impossible to tell if decision to hold ball was correct. Bad protection gets Grier sacked more than anything.
3rd & 15, UF 12 Completion, six-yard gain (Taylor) Yes B Designed screen. Grier waits for pressure well, and makes good throw to Taylor, but two whiffed blocks doom play.
1st & 10, ECU 48 Completion, 26-yard gain (Powell) Yes A Designed wheel/post concept, wheel as primary read. Grier waits just long enough, drops dime where only diving Powell could make a play.
2nd & 6, ECU 18 Incompletion (Showers); DPI Yes B As debated in Theater of Operations, Grier has a choice between Showers on post and Goolsby on wheel. He chooses Showers, and makes good but not great throw that forces ECU DB to interfere or risk a TD. A-level throw to Showers may produce TD, but an A/B throw to open Goolsby could have, too.
1st & 10, 50 Incompletion (Robinson) Yes B Grier works through progression to find Robinson in a hole, throws high where only he can catch it. Drop squanders chance. But Grier totally misses McGee wide open on corner route to his far right.
1st & 10, 50 Completion, five-yard gain, TD (Robinson) Yes B Robinson runs phenomenal whip route, Grier throws high but with good anticipation. Questionable (read: wrong) OPI call on McGee negates play.
3rd & Goal, ECU 20 Run (scramble), no gain No N/A Grier is TD-hunting, looking deep for receiver (covered) and Goolsby (open on slow-developing wheel route), and misses Powell and Taylor open underneath. After feeling pressure, Grier attempts to scramble, but stumbles and fumbles. Florida recovers and kicks a field goal on the next snap, but this was dangerous.
1st & 10, UF 26 Completion, 34-yard gain (Goolsby) Yes A Excellent post/wheel route design. Grier locks on to Goolsby, but throws him open brilliantly, releasing prior to his head turning and delivering a pass to a spot that only Goolsby could reach. Throw hitting slightly ahead of stride forces stumbling catch, but Goolsby still gets 10 yards after reception.
3rd & 2, ECU 32 Completion, 32-yard gain, TD (Goolsby) Yes A Utterly brilliant play design features fake toss and naked bootleg with Goolsby coming across from backside of formation. Grier makes great throw on time and in stride, but a C throw might still have gotten a TD; no one within eight yards of Goolsby as he catches and turns, and his catch-and-run to paydirt is helped by good blocks.
2nd & 10, UF 28 Completion, six-yard gain (Lewis) Yes C Grier works through progression quickly, finds Lewis and throws just before Callaway comes wide open over middle. Low throw forces Lewis to stop and reach down, allows defense to react and help limit YAC.
3rd & 4, UF 34 Completion, three-yard gain (Powell) Yes B Grier again works through progression quickly, opts for short route. Good throw to Powell actually brings him closer to first down, but good defense keeps him short. McGee may have worked open on much more difficult throw with a couple more seconds of patience.
2nd & 6, UF 29 Incompletion (Callaway) Yes D Another naked bootleg throw. Grier has Callaway wide open for a first down, but inexplicably leaves his feet to throw and skips the pass short. Missed opportunity.
3rd & 6, UF 29 Run (scramble), 19-yard gain Yes N/A Grier sees no one open and feels pressure from five-man rush, but has enormous opening in middle of field; no ECU defenders between hashes or in front of the sticks. Excellent run nets first down, but Grier lets ball drop low in hand while making a cut, which is scary after a first fumble. (UF box score lists this as "rush draw play"; there's no damn way.
1st & 10, UF 48 Incompletion (Robinson) Yes D Spurrieresque play-action deep shot after a big play with only two receivers beyond line of scrimmage, and Robinson has a step on the safety after scorching ECU CB Scarfone. So Grier throws a 50-yard pass about 38 yards. A/B throw leading Robinson is a walk-in TD.
1st & 10, UF 24 Interception (Bailey drop, tip) Yes C The interception isn't really on Grier, not with Bailey being the obvious target and the ball somehow not touching the ground as Bailey fell with it and then popping up into an ECU defender's arms. The throw, though, is a rocket, and a slightly softer one means he doesn't fall to the ground while trying to corral it in the first place.
1st & 10, 43 Completion, 14-yard gain (Robinson) Yes C Designed screen. Grier's throw is actually low, and forces Robinson to lean down. But Robinson makes four people miss before losing his balance on one of the night's most exciting plays anyway.
2nd & 2, ECU 35 Completion, 17-yard gain (Robinson) Yes B Designed screen. This Grier throw hits Robinson in the numbers, so it's easier for him to make a man miss and follow an excellent Powell block down the sideline.
2nd & 7, ECU 15 Completion, seven-yard gain (Robinson) Yes B Designed screen. Just about the best throw a QB can make on a screen, allowing Robinson to catch in stride, if by ducking just slightly. Another exceptional Powell block, too.
1st & Goal, ECU 3 Incompletion (McGee) No D Truly terrible decision saved only by a high throw; would be a minus-minus decision on a different scale. Grier locks on primary read, tries to float pass over three ECU defenders. Lucky it was only deflected. (Meanwhile, Lewis wide open on back side of play.)
3rd & Goal, ECU 6 Completion, six-yard gain, TD (Robinson) Yes B Grier sees Robinson breaking open on another whip route, and throws as he begins his break, but Robinson stumbles simultaneously. A good recovery by Robinson and fine ball placement — inside shoulder of corner — allows the TD.
2nd & 9, UF 37 Incompletion (Callaway) No F Grier has Callaway breaking open on a post route, but Callaway hasn't turned for the ball; a couple more seconds and he might be able to hit him with a bomb. Instead, Grier rifles a pass well behind Callaway that hits Scarfone in the hands.
3rd & 9, UF 37 Incompletion (Callaway) No F Grier premeditates a throw to Worton, who never breaks open (thanks to some uncalled DPI), but also throws to his inside shoulder, and again hits Scarfone in the hands.

Treon Harris Play Table vs. East Carolina

Situation Result (Target) Good Decision? Throw Grade Notes
2nd & 11, ECU 20 Completion, seven-yard gain (Fulwood) Yes B Designed screen. Throw can't get better than a B on a designed screen, basically.
3rd & 4, ECU 13 Sack (scramble), four-yard loss No N/A Harris drifts left and towards rush in pocket, then escapes right to short side of field. Despite easy throwaway opportunity, Harris tries to scramble upfield. (Hardin misses FG wide left after this play.)
1st & 10, 50 Run (scramble), 14-yard gain Yes N/A Designed naked bootleg throw, but Harris has McGee open short and Lewis drifting behind defenders, so running was very likely a good call. A quicker decision nets a completion, but hard to argue it nets more than the 14 yards Harris gets after making men miss.
1st & 10, ECU 23 Incompletion (Goolsby) Yes D Fake screen wheel concept: Fulwood runs short hitch, Harris pumps and baits corner, then throws deep. Woeful underthrow forces Goolsby to turn around and backpedal, and could have been picked. A/B leading throw may be TD. (Illegal shift wipes out play.)
1st & 10, ECU 28 Completion, eight-yard gain (Fulwood) Yes B Harris handles high snap well. Designed screen; this is the play on which Fulwood runs over ECU CB Scarfone. Also notable: Powell upends ECU DB with cut block.
3rd & 4, ECU 17 Completion, no gain (Powell) Yes C Designed double screen. Harris's throw is very high, forces Powell to jump and allows ECU DB to lunge for him, scuttling play. Hard to say Harris made wrong read because he may have only been told to make one, but screen on far side of field seems better-developed.
1st & 10, UF 20 Incompletion (Worton) Yes D Designed screen. Ball is low, skips before reaching Worton. Also: First play of fourth quarter, and Harris's first play since first half
1st & 10, UF 25 Completion, 28-yard gain (Goolsby) Yes A Wheel route is primary read. Harris locks on, but throws gorgeous touch pass just over defender for big gain. Unquestionably the best throw of Harris's year so far.
2nd & 8, ECU 45 Incompletion (throwaway) Yes N/A Designed screen. Harris pumps and gets DE in air instead of floating pass over him. Harris evades blitzing LB, then throws pass away smartly.
3rd & 8, ECU 45 Completion, 11-yard gain (Robinson) Yes B One-read throw to Robinson on hitch. Throw isn't perfect, but Robinson makes fine play to shield ball from CB and make catch at sticks.
1st & 10, ECU 34 Incompletion (throwaway) Yes N/A Three verts concept. No receivers open as ECU drops seven, but pressure (...yeah) forces Harris to scramble. Throwaway could have come sooner, would've saved crunching hit at moment of release.
1st & 10, ECU 24 Sack, four-yard loss No N/A Harris waits too long and doesn't see Robinson on crossing route; easy touch pass gains eight or more yards. (Holding penalty wipes out play.)
2nd & 15, ECU 29 Run (scramble), 22-yard gain Yes N/A Harris has Fulwood open over middle, but has acres of green in front of him as rushers are walled off. Harris shows exceptional quickness and agility on run.

Conclusions and Data

Grier was generally a better thrower (and was asked to do more with his arm) against ECU, but his good decisions and good throws were marred by some mind-numbing decisions coupled with awful throws. He got unlucky to throw the interception he did throw, but threw two passes that should've been picked on consecutive throws, and also nearly wasted a red zone trip with another terrible decision and iffy throw. And after a strong start, Grier's appearance in the second half left much to be desired.

Harris, on the other hand, made just seven throws that weren't throwaways, and only one good throw that wasn't on a screen. While it's hard to fault Harris too much for being limited by Florida's play-calling, his one truly bad throw demonstrated why his arm strength on deep throws is seen as a weakness.

As for the data:

Will Grier Throw Grades

A B C D F Composite Throw Grade
New Mexico State 7 7 3 0 1 3.05
East Carolina 3 8 3 3 2 2.37
Season to Date 10 15 6 3 3 2.70

Treon Harris Throw Grades

A B C D F Composite Throw Grade
New Mexico State 6 6 4 2 1 2.74
East Carolina 1 3 1 2 0 2.43
Season to Date 7 9 5 4 1 2.65

Grier's edge on Harris narrows significantly after extra work, but that drop comes largely from Grier's final two throws — and, in reality, recency bias affects those two throws far more than it does here. The real issue for Grier is inconsistency which looks like mediocrity over a larger sample size against East Carolina; while Harris wasn't great, either, he also did less to affect his overall grades.

Will Grier Good Decision Rate

Yes No Composite Good Decision Rate
New Mexico State 20 2 90.9%
East Carolina 17 4 81.0%
Season to Date 37 6 86.0%

Treon Harris Good Decision Rate

Yes No Composite Good Decision Rate
New Mexico State 20 4 83.3%
East Carolina 11 2 84.6%
Season to Date 31 6 83.8%

Grier still leads Harris on good decisions, but his edge has shrunk here, too, though a smaller sample size once again helps Harris. Grier's Good Decision Rate was a sterling 90% in the first half against the Pirates, but just 72.7% after being reinserted at the beginning of the second half.