Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Driskel injury gives Murphy chance for reps at QB

GAINESVILLE — Tyler Murphy worked hard in the offseason hoping to establish himself as the Gators' undisputed backup quarterback when fall camp began.

But Murphy was stunned when, three days before camp, his role suddenly changed. Junior quarterback Jeff Driskel was sidelined with an appendectomy and Murphy would temporarily take the starting role.

As Driskel runs preseason workouts from the sideline, staying mentally focused, Murphy is running the show from under center.

The starting job is not his to win, but coach Will Muschamp said there's a lot at stake for Murphy and the Gators.

"It's huge," Muschamp said. "Anytime you get in a situation where you get all the turns and reps and at-bats it helps you as a player. … We've got a motto around here, man down, man up, and I challenged the football team — it's time for somebody to respond."

Murphy, 21, has played three games since arriving in 2012, but has never thrown a pass. Yet, when practice began Friday, Murphy wanted teammates to know he's ready.

"Definitely I feel like I'm ready," said Murphy, a redshirt junior from Weathersfield, Conn. "I've worked very hard, on and off the field and in the film room. I feel like my teammates have confidence in me. I feel like the coaches have confidence in me. And now it's my job to continue to develop that confidence within my team and coaches throughout camp."

Coaches love the cliche that the backup is just a heartbeat from being the starter, but for Florida that has been much more than a saying the past several years.

When Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow was knocked out of the Kentucky game with a concussion in 2009, the burden of facing No. 4 LSU in the next game nearly fell on little-used John Brantley. As the starter in 2011, Brantley's leg injury against Alabama forced the Gators to turn to then-freshman Driskel. But Driskel had an ankle injury and third-string Jacoby Brissett made his first college start against No. 1 LSU.

So for veterans such as senior right guard Jon Halapio, seeing Murphy under center represents a chance to ensure that if something happens to their starter, the Gators would survive.

"Definitely, it can be good for us," Halapio said. "We'll get to develop our backup just in case a situation just like this would happen in the season. It's definitely good practice for us. We're not panicked or anything. Tyler has been here for awhile, he knows the offense, so we'll be fine."

Added Driskel: "He's always gone in with the look that he's one play or one injury away from being the starter. He's really attacked the offseason like he should."

Murphy was a high school dual-threat quarterback who came to UF to play receiver, but remained at quarterback. At times his patience has worn thin, but Murphy's resolve has never wavered. Now, it might all finally pay off.

"It definitely requires a lot of patience," Murphy said. "It's not a lot of fun sitting on the bench, I can tell you that much. You want to be out there, playing and stuff. I just took it as a learning tool. It's very humbling and you really mentally just have to keep working, keep going at it and just keep faith and you'll get a chance."

Antonya English can be reached at

Driskel injury gives Murphy chance for reps at QB 08/06/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 7, 2013 10:44am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Joe Maddon gets warm reception in return to the Trop

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The night was arranged to honor former Rays manager Joe Maddon in his first visit back to the Trop, and the standing ovation from the bipartisan crowd and scoreboard video tribute seemed proper acknowledgments of his hefty role in the Rays' success during his nine-year stint.

    Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon (70) talks with reporters during a press conference before the start of the game between the Chicago Cubs and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017.
  2. Rays vs. Cubs, 7:10 p.m. Wednesday, Tropicana Field

    The Heater

    Tonight: vs. Cubs

    7:10, Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM; 680-AM (Spanish)

    Tampa Bay Rays' Blake Snell poses for a picture during the team's photo day at baseball spring training in Port Charlotte, Fla., Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
  3. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Tuesday's Rays-Cubs game

    The Heater

    Chris Archer's night ended with his 11th loss, but he and the Rays should feel good about his six solid innings. After the forearm tightness scare in Chicago, he had two rough outings (15 hits, 11 runs, seven innings), so Tuesday was a reassuring rebound.

  4. At 6-8, Lightning prospect Oleg Sosunov comes with, and needs, a high ceiling

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — When Hall of Famer Phil Esposito first saw Lightning prospect Oleg Sosunov, he joked that the 6-foot-8 defenseman could reach the Amalie Arena ceiling.

    Lightning 6-foot-8 defenseman Oleg Sosunov competes in the preseason opener. Phil Esposito jokes that Sosunov can reach the ceiling at Amalie Arena.
  5. Jones: Rays' Kevin Cash doesn't mind following in Joe Maddon's steps

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — On this particular night, he's the other guy. He's like a talk-show guest scooted to the end of the couch. He is Kevin Cash. And the Rays manager is standing in the home dugout at Tropicana Field.

    ST. PETERSBURG, FL - SEPTEMBER 17: Manager Kevin Cash (L) of the Tampa Bay Rays reacts to action during the game against the Boston Red Sox at Tropicana Field on September 17, 2017 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Joseph Garnett Jr./Getty Images) 700012494