Quarterback Luke Del Rio will practice this week.
The man whose job he might be taking isn’t fazed.
“People want to make it Austin versus Luke,” Austin Appleby said Monday. “It’s not that.”
But in many ways, it is.
Even though Del Rio's three starts were at home against unranked opponents and Appleby’s two starts came on the road — including a game against then-No. 14 Tennessee — the fact remains: Florida’s offense was undeniably better under Del Rio than Appleby.
Five weeks into the season, Florida ranks ninth in the Southeastern Conference in scoring offense (28.4 points per game), ninth in total offense (407.2) and is tied for fifth in passing offense (246.4 yards per game).
While Del Rio was the starter, Florida averaged 33.7 points per game, 466 yards of offense per game and 264 yards passing per game, all significantly better than where UF’s offense ranks two games into Appleby’s tenure.
But coach Jim McElwain doesn’t see the quarterback position as the issue.
“Consistency and performance is nowhere where it needs to be. And yet, we’ve got pretty decent play out of the quarterback,” McElwain said.
Del Rio and Appleby have each completed just under 62 percent of their passes, and they’ve both proven they can provide explosive plays — Del Rio completed a 78-yarder to Antonio Callaway against Kentucky and Appleby threw a 51-yarder to the sophomore receiver against Tennessee.
But Florida’s offense still ranks in the bottom half of its conference’s standings.
“Am I excited about where it is? No,” McElwain said. “We’ve got to get better play at some positions, and we’ve got to get more energy out of those positions."
Part of fixing UF’s offense is getting its starting quarterback back on the field.
Del Rio practiced Monday, and McElwain said he’ll continue to practice today and Wednesday. The coaching staff will re-evaluate him then and decide if he’s ready to play against LSU on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Appleby will try his best not to lose the starting job to the same player who took it from him during preseason camp.
But if Del Rio is healthy, it remains a longshot that Appleby will continue to play.
“I think you always anticipate starting,” Appleby said.
“Both of us want our number to be called. He wants to be healthy, he wants to be out there, and I want to be out there and playing. Because we both think we’re the one that gives our team the best chance to win.”
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Austin Appleby (12) directs the offense during Florida's 38-28 loss to Tennessee on Sept. 25, 2016, at Neyland Stadium. Appleby passed for 296 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.