Wednesday, June 20, 2018
Sports

Florida QB Del Rio hurt in win over North Texas

GAINESVILLE — Florida won its game Saturday night, but it lost more than it gained.

Quarterback Luke Del Rio is out for an undetermined amount of time after suffering a left leg injury on a roughing the passer penalty late in the third quarter of the 23rd-ranked Gators' 32-0 win over North Texas.

Graduate transfer Austin Appleby, who replaced Del Rio in the game, will probably start at Tennessee next weekend, coach Jim McElwain said.

Of Del Rio's injury, McElwain said, "It doesn't look great."

The injury happened when North Texas defensive lineman Joshua Wheeler hit Del Rio low at the end of an incomplete pass. Trainers and McElwain rushed to the field. Del Rio eventually got up and was helped to the locker room.

The play caused tempers to flare. McElwain had to be restrained by referees for barking at the North Texas bench.

"I took that low hit on Luke awful personal," McElwain said. "When you see something like that, you know, it's my responsibility when their parents aren't here to be their parents."

McElwain said he hadn't gotten so "heated" since he played in high school.

On the next play, Florida starting left guard Martez Ivey was ejected for grabbing linebacker Fred Scott by the face mask

"That penalty probably was mine," McElwain said. "I get how it is. … There's probably some makeup calls every now and then."

Ivey won't be suspended for the Tennessee game.

Before Del Rio's injury, he was hardly the game's focal point. That honor went to the Florida defense, which dominated the game. It started on North Texas' second play.

Dropping back to pass from his 7-yard line, Mean Green quarterback Mason Fine tried to escape the rush. He scrambled up the middle, but Florida nose tackle Joey Ivie met him in the hole. Fine looked left, but defensive end Jordan Sherit blocked his path to the outside. And defensive tackle Caleb Brantley, who sliced past guard Garrett Gunter, dragged Fine down from behind for a safety.

Florida, which entered the weekend tied at No. 4 in the nation with nine sacks, got seven against the Mean Green, along with an interception and a team-record-low 53 yards of offense allowed. Safety Marcus Maye and linebacker Jarrad Davis led the way with six tackles apiece. Redshirt freshman defensive end Jabari Zuniga recorded a team-best two sacks.

McElwain credited the performance to mental preparation. "I saw a bunch of guys that did a really good job at film study," he said. "Our guys are starting to understand it's more than just the practice on the field."

The offense, however, didn't earn any such praise.

Del Rio had just 186 yards passing, no touchdowns and an interception. Florida had 225 yards rushing and four scores on the ground, but McElwain wasn't impressed after having to settle for a field goal, a punt and a fourth-down stop on Florida's first three drives.

"We've got to be able to punch the ball in the end zone," he said. "That's just the way it is."

That message won't change when the Gators travel to Knoxville next weekend for an SEC East bout against Tennessee.

"I'm really hoping that (Del Rio will) be back with us and healthy as soon as possible," said Appleby, who was 2-of-4 for 30 yards and rushed once for 5 yards. "But I'm ready to roll. We've got a job to do."

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