The primary takeaway from Florida's 2016 spring game on Friday night was as obvious as could be. With a thoroughly impressive performance, one of the best by a Gators quarterback in a spring game, Luke Del Rio led his Blue team of first-teamers to an easy 44-6 victory — and stamped himself as Florida's obvious leading candidate to be its starter for the fall.
Florida's quarterback of the now could scarcely have had a better night. Del Rio led four touchdown drives and threw for two touchdown passes, completing 10 of 11 passes for 176 yards against a second-team defense that couldn't pressure him consistently. He looked sharp, composed, and decisive, though, with his only incompletion coming on a savvy throwaway, and made throws over the middle and to the corner that would likely have been completions against even the Gators' best defenders.
Of course, "likely" is not "asssuredly," and given how that defense ruined the Florida debut of Feleipe Franks, it's hard to jump from one to the other. Franks threw three interceptions to Blue defenders — two to Duke Dawson, the latter of the duo returned for a touchdown — and generally seemed every bit a freshman, and not at all a highly-touted recruit, until the Gators' final drive. Finally playing with the Blue team on that drive helped Franks: His finest moment came on a deep throw to C'yontai Lewis that was dropped late in the fourth quarter, and he hooked up with Lewis while on the run for a touchdown pass.
Redshirt senior Austin Appleby and true freshman Kyle Trask each looked significantly more composed than Franks with the Orange team, both doing so almost exclusively while under duress and behind a leaky line. Trask connected with Alvin Bailey over the middle on a throw better than any by a QB not named Del Rio on the night.
Apart from Del Rio's excellence and the Blue team's dominance, though, the most welcome sight of the night was the performance of redshirt sophomore kicker Eddy Pineiro. Florida's ballyhooed kicker recruit did not disappoint in his first game in Tim Tebow's old No. 15 jersey, cranking kicks of 56, 52, and 46 yards through the uprights and missing 54- and 52-yarders wide right.
Of the three makes, only the longest kick seemed to lack the leg to be good from 60 yards out — and while three made field goals in a spring game may not seem like much, Florida didn't have three three-pointers in any game in 2015. Pineiro is expected to be a major upgrade on the kicker-by-committee approach that was headlined by Austin Hardin's inconsistency, and showed positive signs of living up to his hype.
Redshirt junior Mark Thompson led all running backs with 46 yards and a touchdown run, but also coughed up a fumble near the goal line that C.J. Worton fortuitously grabbed and turned into six points. Worton also had the night's longest completion, a 46-yard catch-and-run from Del Rio on the opening drive; tight end C'yontai Lewis had five catches and 79 receiving yards to lead all players, with Franks feeding him late.
Redshirt junior Dre Massey caught Del Rio's other touchdown pass.