The consensus among fans, reporters, writers, bloggers and others seems to be that Oregon State transfer Luke Del Rio is a lock to become the Gators’ starting quarterback in the fall, if not sooner. But, trust me, that deal is far from done.
I’ve been saying since even before the start of the spring that Purdue graduate transfer Austin Appleby is going to make a strong bid for the starting role and has a good chance to win it because he has a huge edge over Del Rio and true freshmen Feleipe Franks and Kyle Trask not only in playing experience at this level, but starting experience.
Franks and Trask obviously have zero playing experience. Del Rio has zero starting experience and precious little playing experience. So, who knows how these guys are going to perform or hold up in a real game in front of 90,000 fans?
Appleby has been there before, having started nine games at Purdue, including the last two last season.
Here’s another reason I like Appleby’s chances: it’s been an almost seamless transition for him because he’s stepped into an offense that is very similar to the one that he played in at Purdue. He said he feels comfortable in the offense — and confident in Jim McElwain and offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier.
“Well, Coach Mac and Coach Nuss are just unbelievable teachers,” he said. “The way that they teach the game and the offense itself fits me very well. It really brings out what I do really well. So the more I can be here taking the reps, the more I get used to the guys, really it’s the same offense I ran under Coach (John) Shoop at Purdue. He was an NFL (offensive coordinator) and there’s a lot of similar concepts. It’s just learning the Florida way, learning it the way Coach Mac and Coach Nuss are teaching it.
“They might be the same plays, but the leads are a little different. Learning your personnel is a little different. It’s just the learning process and the more reps you get, the better and better you get. The game’s definitely slowed down since I’ve gotten here back in January. Every single day that we’re out here, I’m becoming more and more familiar, the balls are coming a little bit easier for me to spit out and when it comes down, all you have to do is play. You can’t think, instead just react. And that’s what we’re working on.”
Given all that, I’m going to go ahead and make the prediction that Appleby eventually becomes the starting quarterback. He has the size, the arm — and more important — the playing experience. That’s a combination none of the other candidates has.