The top storyline for Florida going into Saturday's matchup with the Kentucky Wildcats was whether or not quarterback Tyler Murphy would be a suitable replacement for Jeff Driskel.
Well, Murphy proved that not only can he fill the role of signal-caller in Gainesville, he may actually be the spark that the Gators have been looking for offensively.
Murphy threw for 156 yards, ran for 36 more and had two total touchdowns en route to a 24-7 win over the Wildcats. What was most impressive, though, was that Murphy completed 15 of his 18 passing attempts, an 83.3 percent completion percentage.
The Gators were actually tied with the Wildcats 7-7 after the first quarter. But Murphy took over in the second quarter, throwing a nine-yard touchdown pass to Trey Burton, followed by a three-yard TD scamper with just under three minutes left in the half.
Another impressive facet of Murphy's performance was that he was able to move the ball effectively against one of the nation's toughest pass defenses. Per the NCAA's website, the Wildcats rank 28th in the country in passing yards allowed.
For Murphy to do so well against such a stout pass defense shows that Florida is certainly in capable hands with him at quarterback.
Perhaps what was most telling about Florida's offensive attack against Kentucky, though, was the double-down focus on the running attack, which the Gators will certainly rely on as Murphy continues to get acclimated to football in the SEC.
Matt Jones, the Gators' star running back, racked up 176 yards and a score on the ground against the Wildcats.
Jones had only 275 yards rushing all of last year. But his 5.3 yards-per-carry average showed that he has the ability to be an every-down back for Florida. And now he's primed to demonstrate that talent on a weekly basis.
Fans in Gainesville have been worried all year about their team's offense. Those concerns were justified in Florida's Week 2 loss to the Miami Hurricanes, when Driskel tossed two interceptions and the Gators went just 6-of-15 on third-down conversions.
According to Aaron Torres of Fox Sports, fans were simply content with Driskel at quarterback even though they had concerns about him. "Things weren’t good with Driskel last season," wrote Torres. "Prevailing thought was that they’d be cataclysmically terrible if they lost him going forward."
Well, the Gators have lost Driskel. But instead of being done for, Murphy and company have sparked the Gators offense and cruised to two easy victories.
The Gators return home to face Arkansas next week, then hit the road again to face LSU the following week. Both those games are sure to be huge tests for the new-look offense for Florida.