Florida will stick with Austin Appleby at quarterback for the Outback Bowl and has decided not to burn either of his freshmen QBs’ redshirts for the game.
Both Austin Appleby and Luke Del Rio have struggled during their time under center in moving the Florida offense down the field, so speculation that head coach Jim McElwain would burn the redshirt of either Feleipe Franks or Kyle Trask for the Outback Bowl against Iowa began to circle.
That won’t be the case, McElwain said on Thursday, as he announced that Appleby will play for the Gators. Del Rio will also be available after having suffered a leg injury earlier this season.
The move makes sense. While a bowl win would end the season on a high note, erasing a year of eligibility for only one game would not be worth the price. Florida, despite all of the struggles since Urban Meyer left, still expects to contend for national championships, not mid-tier bowl game wins. Using Franks and/or Trask would show a moment of panic by McElwain, and could upset the already skeptical fan base of his coaching acumen.
The struggles of the Florida passing game have been no secret, as the Gators are ranked No. 84 nationally in yards per game through the air, averaging a mere 215.3. Del Rio showed some promise early in the season, but once defenses shut down the Florida running game, it was a crapshoot of how the Gators would move the ball.
Appleby wasn’t any better, looking completely lost at times, including throwing three interceptions in the first half of the SEC Championship Game against Alabama, in which the Crimson Tide ultimately routed the Gators, 54-16.
The 6-foot-6, 220-pound Franks was a four-star prospect out of Crawfordville, Florida, where he threw for 2,766 yards and 35 touchdowns his senior season at Wakulla High School.