Image Credit: UAA
Appearing on the Southeastern Conference‘s post-spring teleconference this week, Florida Gators head coach Jim McElwain offered some short takes on a number of hot topics.
The most interesting opinions he offered were on his four quarterbacks, who will continue competing for the starting job when summer practice kicks into gear.
Though the competition will likely be between the two upperclassmen, McElwain praised the play and development of his true freshmen often throughout the spring. That said, each has plenty to work on before he is ready for prime time.
Regarding four-star Feleipe Franks, McElwain wants him to learn to take what the defense offers. He needs to develop “an understanding of not every play needs to be a home run.” A couple interceptions in the 2016 Orange & Blue Debut should make it obvious that McElwain’s evaluation of Franks is spot-on.
Three-star Kyle Trask‘s strong arm and quick decision making have been pluses, but McElwain believes a better understanding of Florida’s offensive playbook will be necessary for him to be in any position to get playing time.
Purdue graduate transfer Austin Appleby looks to be the runner-up if the quarterback race was decided today, at least in terms of feeling around the program and when he played in the spring game. McElwain called Appleby a perfectionist who has a difficult time shaking off mistakes and moving forward; rather, he “lets the negative plays impact the next one.” Simply put, Appleby needs to learn not to be “so hard on himself.”
Presumed frontrunner Luke Del Rio, a redshirt sophomore walk-on, got the default quarterback improvement suggestion: “[don’t] try to do too much, rather just let the game come [to him]” to you.” Perhaps the most important part of McElwain’s criticism of Del Rio is that he saw the signal caller do just that in the spring game.
Indeed, Del Rio completed 10-of-11 passes for 176 yards and two touchdowns that evening, leading all Gators quarterbacks and putting an exclamation point on spring resume.
McElwain spoke in greater depth about Del Rio during a speaking engagement at the Space Coast Gator Club. According to SEC Country‘s Zach Abolverdi, McElwain was asked whether Del Rio could come close to being as productive as Will Grier was for UF last season.
“Obviously we kind of expect that. We expect him to take it farther than that,” he said. “That’s kind of what it’s all about. But we’ll see how he leads the team, we’ll see how he takes what the defense gives him and time will tell there.”
Whether Del Rio’s pole position carries into the fall remains to be seen at this point, though it does seem he has the least to work on out of Florida’s four-headed quarterback room.