Perhaps overlooked in the Florida Gators win over the Arkansas Razorbacks on Saturday night, due to big performances from wide receiver Solomon Patton and cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy, was the career day from redshirt junior quarterback Tyler Murphy.
Making just the second start of his collegiate career, since the season-ending injury to fellow quarterback Jeff Driskel, Murphy was efficient and effective against Arkansas, just as he has been in every game since replacing Driskel. He finished the game 16-of-22 for a career-high 240 yards and three touchdowns, also a career-high. On the season, Murphy is now 39-of-54 for 530 yards, with five touchdowns and just one interception. His QBR is an impressive 96.5 out of 100. For comparison, Texas A&M quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel has a QBR of 89.1 and the injured Driskel’s QBR was just 60.8.
On top of that, one of Florida’s biggest problems early in the season, when Driskel was still at the helm, was converting in the red-zone. Before Murphy took over during the Tennessee game, the Gators were an abysmal 7-for-14 in the red-zone on the season. However, since Murphy took over the Gators have gone a remarkable 9-for-9 in the red-zone.
“I’m getting more comfortable and I just have to keep getting better, watch film and have confidence in myself,” Murphy said following the win Saturday.
Murphy’s story has been well-documented throughout the past few weeks. A two-star recruit out of Connecticut that’s lone scholarship offer was from Temple. It wasn’t until late in the process that then-Florida offensive coordinator Steve Addazio offered Murphy a scholarship.
Even when he arrived at Florida he was buried on the depth chart and considered transferring or changing positions. Chances are Florida. as well as Murphy, is happy he stuck with it. Since taking over for the injured Driskel he has led Florida to three straight wins and has the Gators right in the thick of things in the SEC East.
“We’re just really proud of him,” said senior defensive back Jaylen Watkins after Murphy’s career day against Arkansas. “We watched him prepare like a starter when he was a third-string quarterback. It’s paying off.”
This week’s game against the LSU Tigers in Baton Rouge will present Murphy with the toughest challenge he has faced yet. LSU has won 53 of its 60 games under head coach Les Miles at home in Tiger Stadium. “Death Valley” as it is so appropriately nicknamed, is one of the most hostile environments to play in in the entire country.
No matter what the result of Saturday’s game, Murphy’s rise from a relative unknown to reliable starter has been one of the better stories in college football this season. He has rejuvenated a Florida offense that was one of the worst in the country when he took over. With Murphy at quarterback and Florida’s defense playing at such a high-level, the Gators have the look of a team ready to compete for a SEC title, something that appeared out of the question just a few weeks ago.