If Murphy can’t go, UF confident in Mornhinweg


Florida quarterback Skyler Mornhinweg hands the ball off against the South Carolina Gamecocks at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, S.C. on Saturday.

Doug Finger/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Monday, November 18, 2013 at 2:34 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, November 18, 2013 at 2:34 p.m.

With Tyler Murphy unable to practice Monday and listed as day-to-day this week with a sprained right shoulder, the Florida Gators are preparing redshirt freshman Skyler Mornhinweg to start his second consecutive game at quarterback.

“If we had to play today, yeah, that would be the plan moving forward,” UF coach Will Muschamp said Monday. “I’ll probably know more (today) or Wednesday.

“Tyler did some light throwing yesterday and felt comfortable. Not ready for him to practice (Monday). We’ll see how far he progresses (in the next couple days).”

In the meantime, Mornhinweg will get all the reps with the No. 1 offense with the idea that he will be starting Saturday’s game against Georgia Southern.

Murphy, who sprained his throwing shoulder in the LSU game, managed to play in the Missouri and Georgia games despite some pain and discomfort. He banged up the shoulder in the Vanderbilt game two weeks ago and was unable to practice last week.

The decision was made Friday to start Mornhinweg at South Carolina this past Saturday.

In a conservative offensive game plan, Mornhinweg threw only two passes in the first half and just 13 for the game, completing 10 for 107 yards. He tried to force a pass late in the game that was intercepted, clinching the Gamecocks’ 19-14 victory.

Now that Mornhinweg has some experience, Muschamp said he will be given more of the offense to run, especially in the passing game.

“I think he can handle more,” Muschamp said. “I think a lot of our plan was based on their front and (Jadeveon) Clowney and those guys and being able to protect for his first start in a lot of those situations. When you move past that, he’ll be able to do more.

“I thought he handled the situation very well. We need to give him more, which we will. I thought he executed what we asked him to do. We were pretty dead on with getting in and out (of the huddle) and getting management of the game and taking the ball to the right spots. He made some good decisions.”

Mornhinweg, the son of New York Jets’ offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, said he was not nervous starting his first game on the road against the No. 11 team in the nation.

“I was really excited,” he said. “I had pre-game butterflies and everything like that. It was a great atmosphere and I was just really excited to get out there and play.

“I think I was ready. Coach (Brent) Pease did a great job of getting me ready all through last year and this year. So, yeah, I definitely think I was ready.”

Other than the late interception, Mornhinweg did a good job managing the offense and played with composure, Muschamp said.

“He’s very cerebral, smart, works at the game extremely hard, well respected by his teammates,” Muschamp said. “As the week wore on, he didn’t really change. That’s kind of who he is.

“There’s not a whole lot of change in him as far as his demeanor is concerned. I thought he handled it really well.”

Mornhinweg did not have a chance to throw the ball downfield in his first start. That figures to change in his second game if he’s called on again Saturday.

“The offensive line performed well, which gives me more confidence to do some different things (with Mornhinweg),” Muschamp said. “That’s where you start. It has nothing to do with Skyler.

“I’ve got confidence that Skyler can go out and execute our offense very well. He did it in the spring and in camp when he had opportunities. It’s just hard for a guy who’s been third string to get a bunch of reps.

“You don’t have a database of knowledge to say this guy can do these things. But I’ve got confidence in him as far as executing what we call, and putting him in situations where he can be successful.”

Mornhinweg said he expects to be more comfortable in his second start, and that he’s confident he can execute the passing game if that’s what he’s asked to do.

“I’m confident in my abilities and I’m confident in the coaches’ game plan, so whatever they want to run, we’ll execute it and we’ll have a shot to win,” he said. “I’m going to go out there and play to the best of my ability. Definitely, I feel I can prove something out there on the field.

“I think I can be accurate with the ball. I’m confident in my ability to throw downfield. I’m confident in my ability to throw the ball.”

Mornhinweg will find out in the next day or two if he’s going to have that opportunity Saturday in The Swamp.

Murphy, who was in too much pain to throw the ball last week, said his shoulder is now about 70 to 75 percent.

“It’s getting better,” he said. “After the game last week (against Vanderbilt), I really couldn’t move it. I’ve got range of motion, so it’s a lot better.

“It’s all about if I can be efficient while I’m out there. I don’t want to go out there and not be able to make certain throws and be limited. That could hurt the team. We need to be sure that when I’m out there, I’m being efficient doing what I need to do.”

If Murphy can’t play, he said the coaches should have enough confidence in Mornhinweg to open up the offense.

“We can’t win a lot of games being conservative,” Murphy said. “Now that Skyler’s got his feet wet, he’s comfortable. He knows what it feels like to be out there.

“I think the coaches can be a little more comfortable calling stuff and allow things to develop downfield.”

Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or andreur@gvillesun.com. Also check out Andreu's blog at Gatorsports.com.

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