SEC Football Q&A: How Do Florida's Injuries Impact the SEC East Race?

Barrett SalleeSEC Football Lead WriterSeptember 26, 2013

Florida QB Tyler Murphy
Florida QB Tyler MurphyAl Messerschmidt/Getty Images

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@BarrettSallee What impact of losing both their play maker on Offense and Defense will it have on Florida? #SECquestions

— Andy M. Johnson (@GeorgiaGunOwner) September 26, 2013

I don't think the season-ending injuries to Dominique Easley or Jeff Driskel will have much of an impact on the Gators at all. I hit on Florida's defense post-Easley earlier on Thursday and wrote that it won't change all that much, but it's the offense that will be interesting to see develop now that Tyler Murphy is taking the snaps.

I know, I know. Murphy looked good against Tennessee. While Florida is in good hands with him at the helm, he's no Driskel.

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

But Driskel's absence will force offensive coordinator Brent Pease to adjust his style a little bit, and that can be a good thing.

Both quarterbacks are dual threats, but Florida fell into an offensive rut while Driskel was in there using a conservative, ball-control offense and an efficient passing game. 

Murphy is more electric on the ground than Driskel, which should lead Pease to implement more of former head coach Urban Meyer's offense into the game plan. That's a good thing, because Florida has been stuck in pro-style/spread limbo for a while.

In the division, the injuries won't be much of a difference. Florida's defense will keep it in every game, but I had the Gators as a 7-5 team before the season started and that's where I see them now.


@BarrettSallee Can Tennessee salvage the rest of thier season and become Bowl Eligible with QB Worley?

— Phil Webber (@61Webhead) September 25, 2013

No, they can't. But that doesn't necessarily mean head coach Butch Jones should make another change either.

Justin Worley gives the Vols the best chance to win right now. Jones panicked and threw redshirt freshman Nathan Peterman to the wolves last week at Florida, and the 31-17 debacle in "The Swamp" was the result. You don't make a quarterback change heading into big matchups against tough defenses, and there's more in store for the Vols.

Tennessee QB Justin Worley
Tennessee QB Justin WorleyAl Messerschmidt/Getty Images

The 2-2 Vols still have South Carolina, Alabama and Georgia on the schedule, which looks like three more losses. If there's a defense that can be had out of that group, it may be Georgia's, but that game is two weeks away. So, if Jones wants a new signal-caller, he better get either Riley Ferguson or Josh Dobbs ready this week versus South Alabama.

Assuming the Vols drop those three big games, that means they'll likely have to win two out of three games against Missouri, Auburn and Vanderbilt. I don't see that happening.

The time to make a quarterback change for this particular Vols' team was when they had four guys vying for the spot this summer, not during the season. The schedule is one of the toughest in the country, and it doesn't leave a lot of room for growing pains. 

Unfortunately for Tennessee, that's likely going to cost them a bowl game. If there's anything we've learned about this particular team, it'd benefit from those bowl practices.

Tennessee QB Justin Worley
Tennessee QB Justin WorleyJonathan Ferrey/Getty Images


@BarrettSallee Who should Dan Mullen start at QB against LSU? What effect should that have on the rest of the season?

— Blake Thompson (@StateDOG) September 26, 2013

The unwritten rule states that you can't lose your job to injury, but there's a reason that it's not written. It's more of a guideline than a rule.

Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen (center) and QB Dak Prescott
Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen (center) and QB Dak PrescottJohn Reed-USA TODAY Sports

With two weeks to prepare, Dak Prescott should get the call over Tyler Russell.

Prescott has been solid this season, passing for 709 yards and three touchdowns while adding 215 yards and five touchdowns on the ground. His presence on the field allows head coach Dan Mullen to utilize more of the playbook he used when he was the offensive coordinator at Florida and some guy named Tim Tebow was taking the snaps.

After all, that's the reason he got the Mississippi State job, right?

That's not a knock against Tyler Russell. He set single-season school records last season with 2,897 yards and 24 touchdowns; but he was inconsistent down the stretch and in the opener before he went down with a concussion.

Mississippi State needs to get to a bowl game, and at this point in the season, I think Mullen is better served to ride the hot hand with Prescott.

Mississippi State QB Dak Prescott
Mississippi State QB Dak PrescottSpruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports


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