The story of No. 19 Florida’s new starting quarterback Tyler Murphy’s debut after Jeff Driskel’s leg injury contains all the elements of a classic underdog tale. The key player is tragically injured just to be replaced by the inexperienced man keeping the bench warm for years waiting patiently for his chance to step into the spotlight. Sounds a lot like the plot line of Varsity Blues.
Excluding a 2-point pass attempt against Miami two weeks ago, Murphy was a rookie on the field having never thrown a pass in college. He was resigned to the sidelines as three quarterbacks, a tight end and all-purpose utility man got their hands on the ball before he did.
“It was always in the back of my mind that I might never play,” Murphy said to the Associated Press.
Though heartwarming, the standout performance by Murphy means significantly less since it was against the unranked crew of Tennessee Volunteers that took the field on Saturday in Gainesville. Some people have even suggested the redshirt junior deserved the top spot as quarterback from the beginning.
Murphy competed for the position by practicing against the third best defense in the nation according to The Bleacher Report. On Saturday, the two-star recruit from Connecticut faced off against a defense ranked number 90. So while Tennessee still falls among teams like No. 1 Alabama and No. 6 LSU in one of the country’s toughest conferences, the SEC, they do not carry quite the weight of their highly-ranked counterparts.
Driskel had earned his stature though leading the Gators to a Top 10 finish in 2012, defeating seven SEC teams along the way. Saying that Murphy deserved his spot after watching just three quarters of that incredibly sloppy game against UT is unfounded.
That is not to say Murphy’s first crack at heading the offense does not deserve credit though. After he returned to the field following halftime, the jitters were gone, and he led the team to a 31-17 win completing 8-of-14 passes with one touchdown pass and another rushing.
Driskel himself congratulated his teammate on his performance in a tweet.
The future of Florida’s already struggling offense may not be quite as fairytale-worthy as the movies, but it does hold some promise. Murphy poses a larger rushing threat than Driskel did as evidenced by the game against the Vols, and his confidence will only grow in the next two games against Kentucky and Arkansas before he has to face a team representative of the rough and tough SEC in the LSU Tigers on Oct. 12. If he can shake the skepticism, Murphy may prove a valuable player can indeed be found buried in the roster.