With Florida Gators (2-1) quarterback Jeff Driskel being knocked out of action against Tennessee (2-2) on Saturday, the Gators discovered that their offense will be in better hands with Tyler Murphy at the helm.
This had to be a pleasant surprise for the Gators, as their junior backup was still a great unknown. The 6'2" quarterback had yet to throw a pass in a college game prior to Saturday.
It also had to be a great relief...especially considering the postgame news on Driskel was not good:
Will Muschamp just said on CBS that Gators QB Jeff Driskel is out for the season, will require surgery. Tyler Murphy's now the starter.— Greg Auman (@gregauman) September 21, 2013
Driskel, who was already protecting his knee with a brace, injured his ankle, and now he is headed for surgery.
This opened the door for Murphy, and that helped open the floodgates for the Gators—who trailed the Volunteers 7-3 at the end of the first quarter. From that point, the Gators defense took over, and Murphy managed the game well enough for Florida to pull out a 31-17 win.
Murphy wound up going a modest 8-of-14 with 134 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions. He also added 84 rushing yards on 10 carries.
To be clear, these aren't Heisman numbers. However, with this defense, Florida doesn't need a Heisman-caliber quarterback. It simply needs someone who can keep the chains moving.
Driskel has never proved he can consistently get that job done. Last season, he passed for 1,646 yards while hitting 63.7 percent of his passes as the Gators went 11-2. Driskel also added 408 yards rushing but did so at an average of just 3.5 yards per carry.
Heading into this game, Florida hadn't scored more than 24 points this season, and those 24 came over Toledo.
While Murphy's stats don't reflect anything that Driskel can't do, his performance did. For starters, that comes with looking comfortable in the pocket:
Tyler Murphy has absolutely outplayed Jeff Driskel. And he's doing the things Driskel doesn't. Looking off guys, feeling pocket.— Thomas Goldkamp (@Goldkamp247) September 21, 2013
Murphy's ability to read the defense and go through his progression far more fluidly than Driskel was immediately apparent.
Also, Murphy knows how to use his feet to pick up valuable first downs.
This is not just going to help the Gators move the chains, but succeed in the red zone.
Since Tyler Murphy came into the game, the #Gators are 4-4 in the red zone ... with 3 TDs.— Thomas Goldkamp (@Goldkamp247) September 21, 2013
Things were not all rosy for Murphy on this day, however:
As we just saw, Murphy may have, and likely will have, some struggles during this season. However, he is a far more well-rounded quarterback.
This will help Florida go deeper into the offensive playbook, and it will help create some space for Mack Brown and the running game.