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Saturday, May 28, 2022

Column: Enough is enough. It’s time to play a freshman quarterback

<p>UF quarterback Austin Appleby gets sacked by Alabama defensive lineman Jonathan Allen during Alabama's 54-16 win over Florida in the 2016 Southeastern Conference Championship Game. </p>

UF quarterback Austin Appleby gets sacked by Alabama defensive lineman Jonathan Allen during Alabama's 54-16 win over Florida in the 2016 Southeastern Conference Championship Game. 

ATLANTA — Burn the redshirt.

Shower Florida fans with what they’ve been asking for.

After Alabama’s 54-16 drubbing of Florida in the Southeastern Conference Championship Game, one thing is apparent: It’s time to give Feleipe Franks or Kyle Trask a shot.

That call for either freshman quarterback could’ve been made after Austin Appleby flung up his third interception of the first half, which, by the way, no other quarterback has ever done in championship game history.

It even could’ve been made at halftime, when Florida trailed the Crimson Tide by 17 points.

And after UF’s offense stalled and failed to score in the second half, it’s clear that coach Jim McElwain needs to ditch Appleby’s mediocrity and unchain one of the first-year signal callers.

Following the loss, McElwain didn’t rule out the idea for the bowl game.

He would, after all, have about a month to prepare a guy like Franks for his first career start.

“That’s one of those deals I think we have to sit down with them and their parents and handlers and all that,” McElwain said. “I’m not sure it’s fair, but at the same time, I know they want to play. So we’ll see.”

What’s there to see?

Both Franks and Trask have gained experience all fall in practice, and what better time than now to at least see what one of them can do?

Yes, it would seem odd to a burn a redshirt this late in the season.

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But Florida is going to recruit plenty of quarterbacks in the coming years, and the only way for McElwain to know if Franks or Trask is a franchise quarterback is by throwing one of them in the fire the same way Nick Saban did with Jalen Hurts this year.

Yes, the same Jalen Hurts who led the Crimson Tide past the Gators Saturday for a third-straight SEC title.

And yes, the same Jalen Hurts who’s led his team a 13-0 record and almost certainly another College Football Playoff berth.

With Florida in danger of falling to 8-5 in a similar fashion to last season’s ending, McElwain is feeling the heat.

He knows he doesn’t have much time to find and develop a quarterback.

“That’s something we’ve got to do,” he said Saturday. “We’ve got to make sure that happens sooner or later, and that’s my responsibility, and it will get done.”

Make it happen, McElwain.

Florida fans are waiting.

Patrick Pinak is the online sports editor. Contact him at ppinak@alligator.org or follow him on Twitter @pinakk12

 

UF quarterback Austin Appleby gets sacked by Alabama defensive lineman Jonathan Allen during Alabama's 54-16 win over Florida in the 2016 Southeastern Conference Championship Game. 

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