Las Vegas has assumed that South Carolina’s chances of beating Florida are better with Gators starting quarterback Luke Del Rio out of action.
I’m not so sure. Florida will go with senior Austin Appleby to start against South Carolina, Gators coach Jim McElwain said Wednesday. The Purdue transfer started against Tennessee and threw for 296 yards, the fifth-highest total for a Gator making his career debut. He hasn’t played since the Vanderbilt game against Oct. 1, but it’s not as if Del Rio has been lighting it up since then. He has completed 56.7 percent of his passes and is the 11th-rated passer in the SEC.
McElwain also hinted that Florida could pull the redshirt off Feleipe Franks, a four-star freshman who has yet to play this year.
Franks “has really done a good job of learning how to play the position from the standpoint of he wasn't one of these guys groomed in these year-round quarterback schools and that kind of stuff,” McElwain said. “He's a multi-sport guy, obviously spent the summer playing baseball, obviously played basketball and did kind of a year-round deal which I think his upside is huge. He's knowing where to go with it more and more and more comfortable verbage wise and things like that and obviously has a heck of an arm and sometimes that arm gets him in trouble. He tries to force it sometimes, right? But he can get away with it sometimes, too."
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McElwain is “not afraid” to play Franks this late in the season, he said.
"I guess that hopefully answers your question and yet Austin is going to take those first snaps. We'll see where that piece goes as we move forward,” McElwain said. “We need a spark and you know Feleipe could be that guy. Who knows? And yet it's not all about that position sometimes. It's making sure the other guys around him are taking care of their responsibilities as well."
All of those words sound familiar to South Carolina fans, who know very well that a new quarterback can sometimes spark a dormant offense.