Austin Appleby hung his head and dropped his pads on the locker room floor in Neyland Stadium more than a month ago.

In his first start as a Gator, Appleby was at the center of Florida’s crumbling loss to Tennessee — one that could still hinder UF’s hopes of an Southeastern Conference East title.

But with a must-win game looming this weekend, Appleby is getting a shot to redeem himself and keep Florida’s division hopes alive.

Coach Jim McElwain announced Wednesday that the backup quarterback will start in place of the injured Luke Del Rio against South Carolina Saturday. Freshman Feleipe Franks is first in line if Appleby struggles, with Kyle Trask “in the bullpen.”

“Austin’s prepared well,” McElwain said. “He did some really good things in (practice).”

In two starts, Appleby has a 1-1 record.

He threw three touchdowns and nearly 300 yards against the Volunteers before faltering at Vanderbilt to the tune of 144 yards and no scores.

Appleby, a graduate transfer from Purdue, will also get the nod on his senior day. That narrative made McElwain’s decision slightly easier.

“He deserves it,” McElwain said. “He’ll be ready to go.”

The news wasn’t particularly shocking given the lack of experience among UF’s freshmen quarterbacks, but McElwain insisted he won’t shy away from playing Franks or Trask if Appleby struggles.

Florida would ideally want to avoid using one of its first-year signal callers, so one or both of them could redshirt this year.

“We’re not afraid at any point of (Franks) playing,” McElwain said. “We need a spark and you know, Feleipe could be that guy. Who knows?”

McElwain said he preferred Franks to Trask because of the developments he saw throughout practices. Franks improved his decision making and became more comfortable with the team’s verbiage, but still has

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