GAINESVILLE — The official word from Florida coach Jim McElwain on Luke Del Rio is that the sophomore quarterback has an injured leg and will not play against Tennessee on Saturday.

Beyond that, McElwain did not offer any other specifics Monday. He did not reveal what the exact injury is or the prognosis for Del Rio’s return.

“He’s got a bum leg and he should be back sometime. I don't know when it's going to be,” McElwain said. “I'm not going to rush him back. You know me, I'll never put anybody out there that's not ready to go. So, we'll see, and yet, you know what, we've got other guys that will jump in there and play.

“I'm excited about it. Now, I feel horrible for him, especially how it happened, and yet, that's part of the game as well. That's just the way it goes."

Del Rio injured his left knee late in the third quarter against North Texas on Saturday night. The Sun, and others, reported Sunday that Del Rio has a sprained MCL and is expected to be out from two to four weeks.

McElwain would not confirm those reports, but did reveal that Del Rio does not require surgery.

“He didn't have to go under the knife yet, so that, to me, is a positive,” McElwain said.

McElwain said when players are out, it becomes a case of out of sight, out of mind with him.

The focus now is on the quarterback who is going to be playing Saturday (and beyond) — Purdue graduate transfer Austin Appleby, who started 11 games in his three seasons with the Boilermakers.

McElwain said Appleby is prepared to take over the offense.

“The guy, he's played. He's been in games. He knows how to prepare,” McElwain said. “He does some things differently, so we're going to have to highlight some of those things. At the same time, we've got to make sure that Feleipe (Franks) and Kyle (Trask) are ready as well. But that's what makes it fun."

At 6-foot-4, 240 pounds, Appleby is bigger than the 6-1 Del Rio and is considered to have a stronger arm. But the two have similar skill sets, and any changes in the offense are expected to be subtle.

McElwain was asked what he likes about Appleby’s game.

“His maturity. His love of the game. How he’s really invested in his teammates,” he said. “But more than that, the preparation piece that he’s put in, even when he wasn’t named the starter. This ought to be fun for him. He’s been in Big Ten stadiums. Now he gets to go to a real fun place to play in the SEC. The reason you come to Florida is to play in games like this.”

There is something Florida fans are certain to like about Appleby. Growing up in Ohio, he started out as a Buckeyes fan, but started converting to a Gator after attending the 2006 national championship game between Ohio State and Florida and watching Tim Tebow play.

“I went as a Buckeye, and little did I know when I left that place, this No. 15 guy, he left an impact on me,” Appleby said. “And the more that I’ve learned about him, the more that I’ve wanted to be like him. And I’ve been modeling myself after him, and ever since that I’ve been a Gator.

“Tim Tebow was my idol, as many kids were probably at that time. I wore No. 15 in high school and I came down here as a sophomore in high school for a camp back when Urban Meyer was coaching, and just fell in love with the place. And it’s really, really neat that I had an opportunity to come back. I couldn’t pass it up.”

He’s not just back. He’s now Florida’s starting quarterback. He’s been preparing himself for this since he enrolled in January and promptly dove into McElwain’s offensive playbook.

Appleby and Del Rio were in a tight battle for the starting role through the spring and into preseason camp, where Del Rio was eventually named the starter.

Appleby said he’s practiced and prepared every day as if he’s been the starter.

“Every day it’s been a learning process, going through the springtime, all summer, going through camp,” he said. “I’d say I know (the offense) as good as I can know it. Every single day, it’s about owning the game plan and knowing your opponent and preparing like a starter. Nothing’s changed this week than it did the last three or even years before that. You prepare the same way. You prepare to be out there, you prepare to have your number called. So when it is, you’re ready for it.

“I don’t think the game plan is going to change at all. I mean we’re going to run the ball, we’re going to set up the play-action pass and get the ball to our guys on the outside. We’re going to do what we do. We have our identity as an offense and it doesn’t really matter who’s behind center.”

Appleby’s teammates are expressing confidence in him.

“We’re excited for Austin. We feel extremely comfortable with what he can do,” senior safety Marcus Maye said. “It’s not like this is his first game or his first start or anything like that. Having Austin out there as our quarterback this weekend, it will be exciting.”

“He’s a lot bigger. He can move around very well. He can escape the pocket when he needs to and stuff like that. He has a strong arm, he knows where to go with the ball and stuff like that. So, having Austin back there is going to be good.”