Gators ready to move forward with Murphy
Published: Sunday, September 22, 2013 at 7:19 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, September 22, 2013 at 11:53 p.m.
Back-up quarterback Tyler Murphy's ability to not only manage the Florida offense, but make plays in it in Saturday's victory over Tennessee, came as no surprise to UF coach Will Muschamp, he said Sunday.
Who: No. 20 Florida (2-1, 1-0 SEC) at Kentucky (1-2, 0-0 SEC)
When: 7 p.m.
“Absolutely not,” Muschamp said on his television show. “When Jeff (Driskel) had his appendix out to start training camp, Tyler came in and really took a step forward in this program. He did an outstanding job running our football team.
“He had a great training camp and put himself in a position to be very successful, and it certainly carried over to yesterday.”
Murphy certainly did not play like a quarterback with zero playing experience at the collegiate level in UF's come-from-behind 31-17 victory. He rushed and passed for a combined 218 yards, throwing for a touchdown and running for one.
Murphy, who completed eight of his 14 pass attempts, also converted some key first downs (running and passing) that kept two critical touchdown drives alive in the third quarter.
“As the backup, you get about one-fourth of the reps (in practice),” Muschamp said. “To go out there and manage our football team and be very productive, too. … look at some of those third-down situations he created with his legs and his arm. We put a lot on him.
“We didn't change much with what the plan was in the run game to get in and out of the right runs vs. the right look they were giving us. He did a fabulous job.”
Murphy took over in the first quarter after Driskel sustained a broken lower right leg while throwing a pass that was intercepted and returned 62 yards for a touchdown.
Driskel is out for the season. Muschamp said Sunday the true junior will undergo surgery today.
“I hurt for Jeff because he's worked so hard to put himself in a great position to have an outstanding year. He was going to have an outstanding year,” Muschamp said.
The offense struggled early after Murphy took over, but the game (and his confidence) changed when he threw a 52-yard touchdown pass to Solomon Patton on a screen early in the second quarter that gave the Gators their first lead, 10-7.
Murphy led the Gators on touchdown drives on their next three possessions, two coming at the start of the second half.
“The first two drives in the third quarter our offense had really won the game,” Muschamp said.
The defense also did its part, shutting down the UT offense in the first half while Murphy was getting acclimated and forcing six turnovers for the game.
“I'm very proud of our football team,” Muschamp said. “We had adversity in the game and we handled it. You've got to play through adversity. Our kids did that. They responded the way you're supposed to respond.
“They (the defensive players) understand it's our job to put the fires out regardless of the situation, create momentum for our football team.”
Murphy will make his first start Saturday night at Kentucky. The No. 2 quarterback is redshirt freshman Skyler Mornhinweg.
The offense will not change much now that Murphy is the quarterback, Muschamp said.
“(Murphy and Driskel) are very similar guys — athletic,” Muschamp said. “They can move around and do some different things for us.
“There are some drills that Tyler likes more than Jeff, so we'll tailor those where the throwing game is concerned. We'll make those adjustments as we move forward.”
Muschamp will know more about the availability of his other injured players today. Starting cornerback Marcus Roberson (knee) and starting right tackle Tyler Moore (ankle) missed the UT game, while starting cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy (thigh contusion) and starting defensive tackle Leon Orr (shoulder) were injured during the game and did not return.
Muschamp said Sunday he thinks Purifoy will be fine.
“We need to continue to build depth on our football team because this is the time of year when you have some injuries,” Muschamp said. “You've got to have guys ready to step up like Tyler Murphy did, have guys that are ready to go play at a high level.”
Muschamp said the Gators also have a lot of things to “clean up” in preparation for Saturday's UK game. Muschamp said he's been disappointed in the Gators' punt team. Kyle Christy, one of the nation's elite punters last season, averaged only 37.0 yards a punt against UT.
“We're not flipping the field like we need to be able to do,” he said.
Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or email@example.com. Also check out Andreu's blog at Gatorsports.com.