Florida Gators quarterback Luke Del Rio against Kentucky- GatorCountry photo taken by David Bowie Luke Del Rio caught many people off guard on Saturday when the redshirt sophomore jogged out of the tunnel at Doak Campbell Stadium and warmed up before the Florida State game. Del Rio has missed the last two games with shoulder and knee injuries and was in street clothes on the road in Baton Rouge the week before.
Despite Del Rio’s appearance to be ready to go into the game, Jim McElwain explained the situation on Sunday night.
“We wanted to make sure if there was something that happened to Austin, if his helmet came off, Luke could go in there and function until we could get him back,” McElwain said on an SEC Championship Game teleconference Sunday. “If it’s a long-term thing, we’d still go with Feleipe.”
McElwain had previously named true freshman Feleipe Franks as Appleby’s backup with Del Rio on the mend. Franks has yet to play a snap this season and doing so at this point in the season would burn his redshirt eligibility. McElwain’s explanation makes sense. If something as small as Appleby’s helmet coming off, which would mandate he sit out for one play, happened on Saturday the coaching staff wouldn’t want to burn the redshirt to have Franks play one snap. Del Rio, despite being injured, could exist between the snap and a handoff to save Franks’ eligibility.
Appleby has started the last three games, leading the Gators to a 2-1 record in that span. He has completed 43-of-73(59%) of his pass attempts for three touchdowns, one interception and three lost fumbles.