Saturday, February 24, 2018
Sports

Del Rio, Appleby at key juncture in Gators QB competition

GAINESVILLE — Gator football coach Jim McElwain called Friday's scrimmage "moving day" for his players, meaning some have a chance to move up the depth chart while others were in danger of moving down.

Nowhere does that apply more than at quarterback, where Luke Del Rio and Austin Appleby are battling for the starting job.

"I don't have the crystal ball," McElwain said before the scrimmage. "I'm hoping that something (happens), and if it doesn't, that's fine. We'll keep going the way that we are going and come up with it."

Appleby is a graduate transfer from Purdue, where he played in 17 games with 11 starts during his career. Del Rio is a redshirt sophomore who was third on the depth chart at Alabama in 2013 and second on the depth chart at Oregon State in 2014.

"I think Austin and I have played really well," Del Rio said. "We're doing our best at making it a tough decision. It's a friendly competition. It isn't like we have any animosity toward each other. We definitely want the best player to be the starter. The fact that we agree on those things it makes it fun to be around each other."

McElwain said he would like to settle on a starter after next Friday's scrimmage.

"I think every day is pivotal," Appleby said. "You just go out there and try to be the best that you can be. I don't think that one day, one play, one practice is going to determine anything. I think it's about a body of work. If you come in here and you be the same guy every day, you put your eyes and your feet in the right place, you have the right process and control the things you can control and trust your preparation and everything takes care of itself."

UF INJURY REPORT: Guard Antonio Riles will miss the season with a torn ACL. Receiver Brandon Powell (foot) will miss 5-8 weeks with a foot injury. Defensive back C.J. Williams is out with a knee injury; the severity will not be known for several days. Punter Jacob Finn had an appendectomy. Defensive back Chauncey Gardner and receivers Rick Wells and Tyrie Cleveland have hamstring strains.

HE SAID IT: McElwain said the football SID office found 57 former Gators on NFL preseason rosters this summer. "That's pretty good, I think."

USF SCHEDULE: USF announced more changes to its fluid non-conference slate including confirmation of a home-and-home series against San Jose State. The Bulls make the program's second trip to California — and third to the Pacific Time Zone —- for a Friday night contest against the Spartans on Sept. 8, 2017. SJSU plays in Tampa on Sept. 12, 2020. Additionally, the school announced its home-and-home against Georgia Tech — originally set for 2021 and '22 — is being pushed ahead. The Bulls host the Yellow Jackets on Sept. 8, 2018, and play in Atlanta on Sept. 17, 2019. USF also announced that its return game at Northern Illinois, which visits Raymond James Stadium on Sept. 10, was moved to 2025.

SEC APPROVES TRANSFER: The SEC cleared the path for former Alabama defensive back Maurice Smith to transfer as a graduate student to Georgia. Smith will be eligible in the 2016 season. Tide coach Commissioner Greg Sankey said Smith earned two exceptions to conference bylaws by graduating in three years.

BASKETBALL: Syracuse will honor the late Dwayne "Pearl" Washington at a Dec. 17 home game against Georgetown. The guard, who coach Jim Boeheim called the most important player in Syracuse history, died of cancer in April. He was 52.

Times staff writer Joey Knight contributed to this report, which used information from Times wires.

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