A roar bellowed from the Sanders Football Practice Field Tuesday afternoon.
Near the end of UF’s practice, the team simulated the raucous noise that will surround them when they step into Neyland Stadium on Saturday in Knoxville.
The simulation was especially aimed at preparing the younger players, like freshmen quarterbacks Feleipe Franks and Kyle Trask, for the fierce rivalry crowd that lies ahead in what will mark Florida's first road game.
“When you go out there, you literally can’t hear yourself think,” senior Ahmad Fulwood said. “It’s just time to buckle down. You’ve got to be even more focused, even more detailed with your work.”
While an ear-piercing Tennessee crowd is a sure bet, Florida’s quarterback game plan is anything but.
Backup Austin Appleby will start the game. That much we know.
But coach Jim McElwain, who prohibited media members from attending practices this week, has been secretive about the rest of the quarterback plans.
Via teleconference Wednesday, McElwain said Saturday will be an opportunity to get Franks or Trask some reps in addition to Appleby, which would be an unusual time for two freshmen quarterbacks to play in their first game at Florida considering the matchup’s hostile environment and importance.
“I know our guys have trust in Austin and Feleipe and Kyle,” McElwain said.
And yet, after Wednesday’s practice at his weekly press conference, McElwain wouldn’t confirm that one of his freshman signal callers would play.
McElwain would rather not tip off Tennessee’s coaching staff.
“Let me just give you my game plan,” McElwain joked. “You think I fell off the turnip truck yesterday, don’t you?”
Depending on how Appleby performs, Franks or Trask may be called upon.
Franks underwhelmed in UF's Spring game by throwing three interceptions, and while Trask played well, he was a backup quarterback at his high school just one year ago.
But like McElwain said, their teammates trust them with the ball even in unfamiliar territory.
“You know, that’s a big stage to come into,” Fulwood said. “But I don’t think they’d have a problem. They both are, you know, tough, smart quarterbacks.”
And no matter who’s under center, he will have sideline support from Luke Del Rio.
Out with a knee injury he suffered against North Texas, Del Rio has been signaling from the sidelines and going through game-plan preparation at practice this week and will fly to Knoxville with the team.
McElwain said Del Rio’s presence will help the other quarterbacks.
“That really is what you expect from that position,” McElwain said. “And the guys around him, the team, they know he’s there.”
UF coach Jim McElwain talks with his team following the Orange & Blue Debut on April 8, 2016, at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.