Backup QB Tyler Murphy energized Florida’s offense after he entered Saturday’s game for Jeff Driskel.
OK. He was facing Tennessee’s defense, so the question now is: Can he keep it up?
Murphy needed a few possessions to become acclimated to the speed of the game after Driskel left with a broken leg that will force him to miss the rest of the season.
But once Murphy hit a short screen pass that turned into a long TD to give the Gators the lead, the career backup gained confidence and took charge of an offense that appeared to be going backward at times with Driskel.
Murphy hadn’t played a down in a collegiate game before Saturday, but he led Florida to 28 points in the final three quarters. He threw a TD pass and ran for the Gators’ final one, which put the 31-17 victory out of reach.
Driskel is — or was, before the broken leg — a mobile QB, but Murphy seems to move better and should fit perfectly into the Gators’ scheme. At least that’s what coach Will Muschamp told the Gainesville (Fla.) Sun this weekend:
“(Murphy and Driskel) are very similar guys — athletic. 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.”
Murphy, who threw for 134 yards and rushed for 85 in the win, won’t get much time to get adjusted because Florida plays at Kentucky on Saturday, the first of seven consecutive SEC games.
The Wildcats are improving. They held Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater in check for a half before he finally got going, but he still threw for only 250 yards and one TD in that win.
The Gators will continue to rely on their solid running game and stout defense while Murphy becomes better accustomed to his new role.
They were likely going to lose at LSU on Oct. 12 anyway, unless Tim Tebow finds another year of eligibility. and probably will be underdogs against Georgia and South Carolina.
It’ll be interesting to see how the Gators will play with Murphy at QB. As ESPN.com’s Edward Aschoff wrote in his weekly SEC Power Rankings: “Florida is still quite the enigma in the East.”