Luke Del Rio’s second play from scrimmage resulted in a twisting, contorting connection to receiver C.J. Worton, who caught the pass along the right sideline for a 46-yard gain.
Two plays later, Florida’s offense found the endzone.
A 14-yard pass to tight end DeAndre Goolsby capped a 75-yard drive to open the Blue team’s 44-6 victory over the Orange team in Florida’s annual Spring game on Friday night, and it may have answered questions surrounding UF’s quarterback battle.
“It’s an open competition,” Del Rio said. “Whether Coach Mac says I have a slight lead or not, that doesn’t change how I work, how I study, how I prepare.”
The redshirt sophomore started at quarterback for the Blue team and was the clear standout among the group, going 10-for-11 for 176 yards and two touchdowns.
“(He) did a good job at letting the game come to him,” McElwain said of Del Rio. “It’s amazing what happens when you throw it to the open guy.”
Graduate transfer Austin Appleby went 8-for-11 for 80 yards while splitting time between both the Orange and Blue teams, and freshman Kyle Trask threw for 63 yards on 4-for-7 passing for the Orange.
Meanwhile, freshman quarterback Feleipe Franks struggled. His first three plays in a Florida uniform consisted of a Keivonnis Davis sack and a Duke Dawson interception.
Of Franks’ first three passes, two of them were picks.
“Feleipe got a little confused on what color jersey he was throwing to a couple times, but you know what, that’s gonna happen,” McElwain said. “That’s all part of learning.”
Tight End C’yontai Lewis led all receivers with 79 yards and also grabbed a touchdown. Midway through the third quarter, the redshirt sophomore snagged a pass from Del Rio along the right sideline, juked a defender and ran up the middle of the field for a 25-yard gain.
In the backfield, junior college transfer running back Mark Thompson received a bulk of the carries for the Blue team, finishing with 46 yards, including a sharp cut behind the offensive line that led to a 26-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.
“That feeling was amazing,” Thompson said. “The stadium wasn't even filled up all the way, but I couldn't even tell.”
Linebacker Kylan Johnson was everywhere for the Blue team, stuffing screen passes and tackling Florida's running backs at the line. The redshirt freshman finished with a game-high eight tackles along with an interception.
“You see the size and the speed there. And then his ... secondary skills,” McElwain said. “To have him back in there, I thought he did a heck of a job.”
But the loudest cheer from the half-filled stadium didn’t come after a forced turnover or a touchdown, but a first quarter field goal. Eddy Pineiro’s kick sailed high above the uprights from 52-yards out with 10 yards to spare.
The redshirt sophomore made three of his five field goals from 56, 46 and 52 yards, and even his first PAT was impressive, bouncing off the second level of stadium seating.
“I don't know too much about football,” Pineiro said. “I just kick the ball and it goes in.”
Quarterback Luke Del Rio (14) drops back to pass during Florida's Orange & Blue Debut on April 8, 2016, at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.