GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- No. 23 Florida likely will be without quarterback Luke Del Rio against No. 15 Tennessee next weekend.
Del Rio injured his left knee in a 32-0 victory against North Texas on Saturday night, a huge setback for the Gators and their championship hopes.
"It doesn't look great, so we'll do whatever," said coach Jim McElwain, adding that former Purdue starter Austin Appleby would be the next guy up. "Somebody else will play, and we'll get some guys ready and move forward and get ready to go play next week."
Defensive lineman Joshua Wheeler hit Del Rio low at the end of an incomplete pass late in the third quarter, drawing a personal-foul penalty. Trainers and McElwain rushed to the field as Del Rio ripped off his helmet. Del Rio eventually got up and walked to the locker room without assistance.
But that was hardly the end of it for Florida (3-0).
McElwain, who initially believed Wheeler's hit was dirty, started yelling at the North Texas (1-2) sideline and had to be restrained by officials and then his players.
"I obviously took that low hit on Luke awful personal," McElwain said. "I'm sure his guy was just scrambling trying to make a play, but I really care about these players. I care about them in more ways than just football players, and when you see something like that, it's my responsibility when their parents aren't here to be their parents.
"I care about these kids. They're mine. I see something like that, it ain't right."
Both teams responded to McElwain's tirade by stepping onto the field and moving toward the hashmarks.
On the next play, Florida guard Martez Ivey was ejected for grabbing linebacker Fred Scott by the face mask during a run. Ivey will not be suspended for the first half of next week's game against the Volunteers.
Del Rio completed 14 of 25 passes for 186 yards with an interception.
The injury overshadowed a dominant performance by Florida's defense, which allowed a school-record 53 yards on 50 plays. The previous mark was 59 yards allowed against Western Carolina in 2006.