University of Florida

UF’s Antonio Callaway returns to starting lineup and dazzles early in loss

Florida wide receiver Antonio Callaway (81) makes a catch as he's defended by Tennessee defensive back Justin Martin (8) during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016, in Knoxville, Tenn.
Florida wide receiver Antonio Callaway (81) makes a catch as he's defended by Tennessee defensive back Justin Martin (8) during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016, in Knoxville, Tenn. AP

Two plays into No. 19 Florida’s 38-28 loss to No. 14 Tennessee on Saturday, Antonio Callaway broke free from his coverage.

Seeing the play unfold, quarterback Austin Appleby threw a deep pass to the sophomore down the left sideline.

Callaway stopped short, made the catch and darted toward the end zone before being stopped at the Tennessee 4-yard line for a 51-yard gain.

After missing last week’s game against North Texas with a quad injury, the wide receiver and former Booker T. Washington High standout returned to the Gators’ starting lineup, and it was almost like he didn’t skip a beat.

Callaway ended the game with a team-high 134 yards on four catches. He cramped up on a couple occasions during the game but played through it.

DEL RIO DRESSES

Quarterback Luke Del Rio, who has a sprained MCL in his left knee after taking a low hit from a North Texas defensive lineman, dressed for Saturday’s game against Tennessee.

He sported a hefty brace on his left knee and didn’t play, but the redshirt sophomore was still on the sideline and giving the offense advice.

Del Rio started the Gators’ first three games at quarterback. He completed 61.4 percent of his passes for 762 yards with six touchdowns and two interceptions.

Appleby started in Del Rio’s place.

CORSO GOES GATORS

ESPN’s Lee Corso sat on the set of ESPN’s “College GameDay” on Tennessee’s campus and looked Smokey, a bluetick coonhound and the Volunteers’ mascot, straight in the eyes.

“Two weeks ago, I didn’t let you down, did I?” Corso said to Smokey, referring to his decision to pick the Volunteers to defeat Virginia Tech in Bristol, Tennessee, on Sept. 10.

On Saturday morning, though, Corso let Smokey down.

The 81-year-old analyst wrapped up the pregame show by putting on a massive Gator head, setting in stone his prediction for the outcome in Neyland Stadium.

“No pick is personal,” Corso told Smokey. “This is strictly business.”

The all-business decision didn’t pay off for Corso, who is now 3-2 with his “GameDay” picks for the host game this year. His lone blunder came when he picked LSU to defeat Wisconsin in the season opener.

ALL-WHITE LOOK

Florida took Tennessee’s message about wearing a mono colored uniforms on Saturday.

The Gators countered Tennessee’s “Smokey Gray” uniforms with an all-white helmet/jersey/pants combination.

It was just the second time the Gators wore all white from head to toe. The other: A 32-13 loss to Alabama in the 2009 SEC Championship Game.

THIS AND THAT

▪ Tennessee has one player on its roster who graduated from a Miami-Dade or Broward county high school: Freshman wide receiver Brandon Johnson.

The former four-star recruit and Plantation American Heritage standout has not recorded any stats this season for the Volunteers.

▪ Tennessee had lost 37 of its past 42 games against ranked opponents.

▪ UF’s Brandon Powell was ejected in the fourth quarter after throwing a punch after a play.

▪ DISH Network presented a check for $102,455 to the Pat Summitt Foundation during a second-quarter timeout. The money will go toward awareness, advocacy and research of Alzheimer’s disease in honor of the late Volunteers women’s basketball coach.

▪ The Tennessee band played “Rocky Top” 18 times during the game.

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