GAINESVILLE -- Florida’s four-headed battle at quarterback was the storyline of spring camp.
Luke Del Rio emerged as the frontrunner to start the Sept. 3 opener against UMass, but second-year coach Jim McElwain also walked away impressed by the play of graduate transfer Austin Appleby and early enrollees Kyle Trask and Feleipe Franks.
The Gators ranked 86th nationally in passing last season (207.1 yards per game), yet after an encouraging spring by both the quarterbacks and the receivers, McElwain expects Florida’s offense to be much more explosive in 2016.
“I’m really happy with [the quarterback] room and really happy with the arm talent in that room,” he said during Wednesday’s SEC Teleconference.
“I look forward to being able to push the ball vertically down the field.”
In a rare bit of candor, McElwain then offered his assessment on what each quarterback needs to improve upon this offseason.
Starting with Del Rio, McElwain said the redshirt sophomore must avoid “trying to do too much.”
“He needs to let the game kind of come to him, and I thought he did that in the spring game,” McElwain said.
Late in the spring, Del Rio struggled with turnovers and accuracy issues. But then in the Orange & Blue Debut, the quarterback delivered a nearly flawless performance and heads into the summer with an edge in the competition.
Although Appleby wasn’t perfect in the spring game, McElwain said the Purdue transfer mostly needs to work on “not being so hard on himself.”
Like Del Rio, Appleby had accuracy issues at time during camp, and according to Florida’s coach, the senior struggled shaking off poor plays.
“He’s one of those perfectionists and sometimes he lets the negative play maybe impact the next one, rather than clap it off and move forward.”
As for the freshmen, McElwain said Franks, who threw three interceptions in the spring game and looks destined for a redshirt season, needs to gain “an understanding that not every play needs to be a home run.”
“Just take what the defense gives you,” McElwain said.
McElwain’s message was even simpler for Trask, who emerged as an intriguing project after coming to UF as a little-known two-star project.
“Kyle is a guy that just [needs to] continue understanding what we’re trying to accomplish,” McElwain said.
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