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Mornhinweg gets solid marks on Gators debut

GAINESVILLE

Last Friday night, a day before Florida's game at South Carolina, Skyler Mornhinweg slept well.

He had had numerous conversations with his father, Jets offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, throughout the week as he prepared to take over for injured quarterback Tyler Murphy in the first game of his collegiate career.

So when the official word came Friday that he was starting, it was no surprise who was the first to hear the news.

"My dad, it was my dad," Mornhinweg said. "Then I texted my mom."

By pregame warmups in South Carolina, he was calm and confident.

"I had pregame butterflies and everything like that, but it was a great atmosphere," he said. "I couldn't ask for any other or better stage to play on."

Injuries have taken Mornhinweg from third on the depth chart when the season began to starter for the Gators this past week. Murphy appears out again this week against Georgia Southern, which would mean Mornhinweg will start again.

The 6-foot-2, 214-pound redshirt freshman was ranked No. 19 nationally out of St. Joseph's Prep in Philadelphia. He was the school's all-time leading passer and was fifth all time in Philadelphia with 4,912 yards. Florida coach Will Muschamp said his place on the depth chart was no knock on his ability.

"I've got confidence that Skyler can go out and execute our offense very well," Muschamp said. "He did it in the spring last year, in camp when we had opportunities. It's just hard for a guy who's been third string to get a bunch of reps, so you really don't have a database of knowledge to say this guy can do these things. Then when you work into the season, you're working a lot of scout work, so you're not really working fastball tempo against a defensive look. But I've got confidence in him as far as executing what we call, and putting him in situations where he can be successful."

As Mornhinweg prepared for his first start, he turned to the man who has been giving him advice for as long as he can remember: his dad. Marty Mornhinweg, Skyler said, is his best, yet toughest critic.

"He told me I did an okay job," he said. "Got to take care of the ball better, got to throw the ball away. He tells me what I'm doing right and what I'm doing wrong. I take it for what it is, because I've gotten to learn from the best there."

For offensive coordinator Brent Pease, last week posed the difficult challenge of trying to put together a game plan for a first-time player facing a team with one of the best defensive players in the nation in Jadeveon Clowney. Pease expects to implement more of the offense this week.

"We need to expect more of Skyler now," Pease said. "I think he can handle it. I've got confidence in him that he can. It's a little bit different situation. He has to be able to do that."

Mornhinweg was 10-of-13 for 107 yards in the conservative offense, and his poise and demeanor earned him great respect from his teammates.

"I'm really proud of him," offensive lineman Max Garcia said. "I thought he did a great job. It was his first college snap. He went out there and made some good checks, some good reads. Obviously, he made that one mistake (an interception late in the fourth quarter to end Florida's last hope), but he got back out there and didn't hang his head. Really impressed by what he did, just being his first game at South Carolina. It's a huge, huge situation to face."

Antonya English can be reached at english@tampabay.com.

1. Jeff Driskel

The Gators' starting quarterback to open the season went down for the year with a fractured right fibula in a Week 3 victory over Tennessee.

2. Tyler Murphy

The second-string QB initially sprained his shoulder Oct. 12 in a loss to LSU, played through it then reaggravated it Nov. 9 in a loss to Vanderbilt.

3. Skyler Mornhinweg

The redshirt freshman, the son of Jets offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg and a top recruit out of a Philadelphia high school, is expected to handle a more complex game plan in his second career start after handling a simpler one efficiently in last weekend's college debut.

Mornhinweg gets solid marks on Gators debut 11/19/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 19, 2013 10:06pm]
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