Luke Del Rio will be well-rested when he resumes his tenure as Florida’s starting quarterback. The Gators are going back to their original 2016 starter when they take on the Missouri Tigers this Saturday, according to the Associated Press.
Head coach Jim McElwain indicated the team’s plan was to return Del Rio to the starting lineup against LSU, but that game’s postponement delayed his reemergence. However, it also provided Del Rio with n additional week to recover from the sprained left knee that he suffered Sept. 17 against North Texas.
“Luke, we were prepared to play him [last] week,” said McElwain. “We’ll play him again obviously moving forward as we go. We’re excited about that. I know Luke’s excited and been itching to go. Obviously we shut everything down on Thursday, so today will be kind of the first time back.”
Austin Appleby guided the Gators to an even 1-1 record with Florida blowing a lead against Tennessee but responding with a narrow victory against Vanderbilt. The No. 18 Gators will make a trip to Columbia, Missouri to face the Tigers in a SEC East matchup.
Despite not playing last week, Florida rose in the AP poll to its highest perch of the season.
Del Rio and Appleby both completed 61 percent of their throws thus far this season, with the former having thrown six touchdown passes against two interceptions compared to Appleby’s 3-to-1 ratio. Appleby’s competition was a bit more strenuous, however. Del Rio guided the Gators to wins over Massachusetts, Kentucky and started against North Texas. Florida, though, totaled just 338 yards and 20 points in their last six quarters, strengthening the case for a Del Rio return.
The 21-year-old son of Oakland Raiders’ head coach Jack Del Rio is on his third team after transferring from both Alabama and Oregon State.