Until Saturday, Tyler Murphy was a relative unknown, even within his own fan base. He had never taken a snap from under center in a Florida uniform. In fact, his only game action was a few plays at wide receiver in 2012. He hadn’t attempted a pass in a game since high school, apart from an incompletion on a failed two-point conversion attempt against the Miami Hurricanes just a couple of weeks ago. He had never been anything more than a scout-team superstar in practice, helping the Gators defense prepare for opposing offenses. Now, he’ll take on a new role: starting quarterback of the Florida Gators.
Murphy came to Florida as a two-star recruit out of Wethersfield, Conn. When he arrived in 2010, he was immediately buried on the depth chart behind the likes of John Brantley, Jordan Reed, Trey Burton and eventually by Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel. He could have changed positions, or even transferred, but unlike many others who have been in his position, he waited patiently for his opportunity and on Saturday, after four years, he finally got it, and he did not disappoint. He finished the game 8-of-14 for 134 yards and one touchdown and added 10 carries for 84 yards and another touchdown.
“I just kept working hard and kept faith in myself and praying for an opportunity,” Murphy told the media after Saturday’s game. “It wasn’t the way I wanted it, but an opportunity is an opportunity. You have to make the best of it.”
Murphy played great on Saturday. He played with a level or composure and level-headedness that is not often seen in a backup quarterback receiving the first significant playing time of his career. However, not to rain on the parade, but it is important for fans to remember to temper their expectations when it comes to Murphy moving forward.
When looking at Murphy’s performance, it is important to remember whom the Gators were playing. This is the same Tennessee Volunteers’ defense that gave up 59 points an allowed 687 total yards of offense against the Oregon Ducks just a couple of weeks ago. This is the same Tennessee defense that ranks 82nd in the country in total defense at 418.3 yards per game. And this is the same Tennessee defense, that just last season, allowed Jeff Driskel to go 14-of-20 for 219 yards and two touchdowns. So while Murphy is off to a promising start, it will be tough to judge just how capable he is until he faces the likes of LSU, South Carolina and Georgia. All of which will be played in highly hostile environments and all of which will have significantly more film on Murphy than Tennessee did.
Now, in no way does this mean to not get excited about Murphy. He played well and perhaps he ends up being just what Florida’s offense needs to get out of its early season funk. But, it is important to remember that this is a guy that has only thrown 14 passes in the past four years. There is a reason Driskel was Florida’s starting quarterback and remained the starting quarterback even when it seemed like he was struggling this season.
Murphy has the look of a guy that is more than capable of leading a team. All I’m saying is, don’t send in those ‘Murphy for Heisman’ votes just yet.