GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida’s quarterback competition is coming to a close, with Gators coach Jim McElwain planning to name a starter next week.
Several UF players gave their take Tuesday on the battle between Austin Appleby and Luke Del Rio.
“Luke is more comfortable in the offense right because he’s been here for a year,” left guard Martez Ivey said. “He knows how to run (the system) and knows how it goes. He’s more of a dropback passer.
“Appleby is more of a scramble type, in my opinion, but he also can sit back in the pocket and throw the ball. He can do just as good as Luke, too. It’s a tough competition between those two.”
Defensive end Bryan Cox Jr. also said Appleby is a run threat but possesses more arm strength than Del Rio, who has a vocal presence on offense.
“Luke, of course, more of the motivator. Very, very good in the red zone,” right guard Tyler Jordan said. “Austin is very good reading stuff and running with it.”
Jordan added that both quarterbacks do well with two-minute drills. Safety Nick Washington said Appleby is more difficult to defend.
“Only because he will make you think he is throwing and then run away. He’ll extend the play,” Washington explained.
“Austin Appleby is a little more of a runner. Whereas Luke will sit in the pocket a little more. They both manage the game very well and get the offense going.”
The players said they don’t care when the starter is announced, but Jordan is anxious to find out the news.
“I’m excited,” Jordan said. “They’ve both been working really hard. They’ve both looked great. So I’m excited to see who it’s going to be.”
Young linebackers emerging
The Gators grew thinner at linebacker this week with the departure of Matt Rolin, but the three freshmen at the position have all impressed in fall camp.
“In the past few recruiting classes we haven’t picked up linebackers,” Cox said. “So it’s real important for us to have Reese come along. And then we have Vosean, who’s been looking really good as well.
“Moon, he’s a real long, rangy guy. I’ll believe he’ll be able to help us, especially in the pass rush aspect. I think he can rush the passer. … These past few days, (Reese) has been coming along. He’s flashing on film every time.”
Moon still needs to fill out his frame, but Joseph and Reese appear to be ready physically for playing time.
“I see David Reese stepping up. He’s playing hard. Always giving us competition,” Ivey said. “The freshman, Vosean. You know, they’re tough linebackers to go against. They always bring it. They come down, always bring the heat.”
Communication is key
Florida had a top-10 defense in 2015 and hopes to maintain that level of play this year despite losing six starters.
In order to avoid a drop-off defensively, Washington highlighted one area the Gators need to excel in.
“Communication is a really big part of playing,” he said. “In order to be successful you have to be communicating. You have to be on the same page as everyone around you. If one guy is playing Cover-3 and another is playing Cover-1, then the entire defense is messed up.
“We’re working very well on our communication, we’ve just got to keep putting great practices back-to-back-to-back. We can’t have one good practice and then kind of slack off the next. We have to hold the standard.”
Zach Abolverdi is the Florida beat writer for SEC Country and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.