GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida coach Jim McElwain said veteran backup Austin Appleby will get the start at quarterback for the Gators on Saturday against South Carolina.
After revealing Monday that starter Luke Del Rio will be out for “a while” with an injured shoulder, McElwain had left his plans for the position open while saying true freshmen Feleipe Franks and Kyle Trask would get a look as well.
Speaking on the SEC coaches teleconference Wednesday, McElwain gave the nod to Appleby while saying that Franks would be the backup.
“Austin will jump out there and take the starts,” he said. “Feleipe has been getting a bunch of reps and Kyle has been getting probably less. So we’ll go with Austin and Feleipe with Kyle kind of in the bullpen.”
Asked if he was still hopeful to protect Franks’ redshirt, McElwain said that isn’t an obstacle to using him if the coaches feel the need.
“That has yet to be … we’ll see where it is. I know this, we’re not afraid at any point of him playing,” McElwain said. “Hopefully that answers your question, yet Austin is going to take those first snaps and we’ll see where that piece goes as we move forward. We need a spark and Feleipe could be that guy. You know, who knows?
“And yet it’s not all about that position sometimes. It’s making sure the other guys around them are taking care of their responsibilities as well.”
Del Rio played through whatever injury he incurred Saturday in Florida’s 31-10 loss at Arkansas, finishing 19-of-37 passing for 229 yards, 0 touchdowns and 2 interceptions, including a pick-6 that bounced off wide receiver Tyrie Cleveland on his first throw of the game.
He has thrown 2 touchdowns and 6 interceptions in three games since returning from a knee injury. Overall, the redshirt-sophomore has completed 56.7 percent of his passes for 1,358 yards, 8 touchdowns and 8 interceptions in his first season as the Gators’ starter.
Appleby, a graduate transfer from Purdue, made two starts against Tennessee and Vanderbilt when Del Rio was out with his knee injury and has completed 61.1 percent of his passes overall for 470 yards, 3 touchdowns and 1 interception.
McElwain said it was his fault for not realizing Del Rio was so banged up during that game Saturday and for not pulling him out.
“Obviously Luke will be out and will probably be out for a while. That’s totally on me not realizing how banged up that shoulder was and that knee, and yet it speaks for his toughness,” McElwain said.