Florida's Offense Is in Good Hands with Tyler Murphy at QB

Barrett SalleeSEC Football Lead WriterSeptember 21, 2013

Saturday's game at "The Swamp" featuring Florida and Tennessee won't go down as one of the best college football games ever played.

As a matter of fact, it was downright sloppy.

The 31-17 win by the Gators over the Volunteers featured five combined interceptions, four total fumbles and a forgettable first half in which a 10-point Florida lead at halftime felt as big as the Grand Canyon.

Florida QB Tyler Murphy
Florida QB Tyler MurphyKim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

However, while the game will likely be remembered for its dysfunction, there was a silver lining for Florida.

After Gator starting quarterback Jeff Driskel was lost early in the first quarter with what head coach Will Muschamp confirmed to be a season-ending leg injury, backup Tyler Murphy came in and provided a spark to the normally anemic Gator offense.

The junior from Wethersfield, Conn., completed eight of 14 passes for 134 yards, one passing touchdown and zero interceptions on the afternoon. In addition to providing a downfield threat in the passing game, the 6'2", 210-pounder rushed 10 times for 84 yards and one touchdown.

"He's the reason we won the football game," Muschamp said in his postgame interview on CBS.

Murphy looked calm in the pocket, delivered the ball on time where it needed to be and checked down when it was appropriate. Simply put, Florida's offense is in good hands with Murphy at the helm moving forward.

Florida QB Tyler Murphy
Florida QB Tyler MurphyKim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Sure, it was Tennessee's defense, and a random assortment of 11 readers could probably constitute a defense comparable to the one the Vols are trotting out in 2013. But Murphy did all of the little things that Driskel typically struggles with on Saturday.

He threw the ball away when his protection broke down, didn't force passes and trusted his receivers to go make the tough catches.

Florida plays ultra-conservative by choice and necessity and has been able to win 13 of the last 16 games this way. Even though Murphy has assumed the starting role, that's not going to change.

But at the very least, Florida now knows that the drop-off between Driskel and Murphy is minimal—if it's noticeable at all. In fact, on Saturday, the offense looked more functional with Murphy at the helm than it has at any point this season.

Does that mean Florida will contend for the SEC East?

The SEC's toughest defense will keep the Gators in virtually every game. On Saturday, Murphy was able to stretch the field in a way that Driskel couldn't, gaining 9.6 yards per attempt against the Vols. Driskel has only eclipsed that mark twice as a starter for Florida—last season versus Tennessee and Texas A&M.

That will keep the Gators competitive in the division. If Murphy becomes more explosive now that he's getting first-team snaps in practice, he could put Florida over the top.