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Friday, March 31, 2023
<p>Treon Harris calls for a snap during Florida's 65-0 win against Eastern Michigan at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.</p>

Treon Harris calls for a snap during Florida's 65-0 win against Eastern Michigan at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

Kurt Roper has all the confidence in the world that Treon Harris will be a good quarterback one day.

But that day will not be Saturday.

If Gator fans needed any more confirmation that Jeff Driskel will be Florida’s starter against Tennessee this week, Roper provided it when he met with the media on Tuesday.

"We have 100 percent confidence in Jeff right now and he’s the guy we feel like we’re going to win football games with," Roper said.

As for Harris, he’s simply not ready yet to take on the role of a starter, Roper said.

Although that’s not saying he won’t be prepared down the road, it is saying that Harris has a lot to learn until then.

For that reason, Roper and head coach Will Muschamp decided against playing the freshman on the road at Alabama.

"(Harris’) understanding is not where it needs to be, and that’s not because he doesn’t work hard at it or he’s not getting reps," Roper said.

"It’s just simply age and number of repetitions and practices he’s had. So, when he goes in, we’re going to ask him to do things that we think that he’s mentally prepared for.

"But the reason that decision wasn’t made is because we feel that Jeff gives us the best opportunity to win football games."

And per Roper, there’s no bigger believer in Driskel than Harris.

Despite calls from the media and fans across the country — including Florida Ring of Honor inductee Emmitt Smith — Harris has modestly backed Driskel while staying out of the social media circus that is surrounding Florida’s football program.

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"I think (Harris) is a grounded young man," Roper said.

"I think he is a guy that understands that he’s just trying to get better every week and I don’t think he’s really getting caught up in that.

"He is one of Jeff Driskel’s strongest supporters. He loves being in that room, loves being around Jeff, supports Jeff and knows he’s working every day to get better and eventually be the quarterback. I enjoy being around Treon and he’s just working. That’s the best way I can say it."

And after Demarcus Robinson stirred up some controversy when he retweeted a tweet that asked followers if they wanted to see a new face under Florida’s center, running back Matt Jones was direct in clearing up any doubt that surrounded Driskel’s standing as the Gators’ starter.

"We’re definitely going to stand behind him because we want offense," Jones said. "Everybody makes mistakes and at the quarterback position when you make mistakes, you get criticized a lot for it.

"He’s going to do better and we’re all pushing to be great so that’s what we all are going to do. We’re going to stand behind him."

In the middle of all the hoopla is Driskel himself, who said he’s managed to stay "even keeled" throughout the bye week despite the backlash from fans on social media.

For him and the rest of the Gators, it’s business as usual no matter what noise envelops the team.

"I don’t think there’s any panic in this building," Driskel said.

"Obviously, we’d like to play better but we didn’t … Fans have the right to (overreact) but we’re not panicking here."

Follow Jonathan Czupryn on Twitter @JCzupryn

Treon Harris calls for a snap during Florida's 65-0 win against Eastern Michigan at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

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