GAINESVILLE — Tyler Murphy's cell phone was besieged with texts and calls from well-wishers after Saturday's win over Tennessee, but one of the most important messages Murphy sent was to Florida QB Jeff Driskel.
By the time Murphy sent the text, he knew that Driskel had suffered a season-ending injury in the game. Murphy, the redshirt junior, was now the starting quarterback.
"It was tough to see him go down," Murphy said. "Anytime you spend a lot of time with someone in the meeting room, off the field, setting up players' practices in the summer, stuff like that, it's just tough because you know we kind of built a good little relationship. I texted him and told him I wish him the best, hopefully he can get healthy and get back out as soon as possible. He said 'It's your time now.' He was very encouraging. He said he just was just going to help me along the way."
Driskel will have surgery for a broken fibula on Wednesday and is expected to need four to six months of recovery.
"He'll have a plate inserted in his fibula, which is the non-weight-bearing bone in the lower leg," coach Will Muschamp said. "I'm very disappointed for Jeff. That's part of the game, but it's very difficult to deal with. It really hurt for him and his family and for us as a football team."
FOWLER HONORED BY SEC: Lakewood alum Dante Fowler Jr. was named the SEC defensive player of the week on Monday. Fowler said he's honored, particularly because the league has so many good defensive players. He forced two fumbles, had three tackles for loss (15 yards) and the Gators' only sack against the Volunteers. Fowler recovered one of the forced fumbles.
"It was a play that I was supposed to chase, so when I saw that the tackle blocked down … I was like, 'Oh snap. I'm going to blow it up,' " Fowler said. "He fumbled the ball and I picked it up and a lot of things were running through my head. It was the second play of the game, it was a sold-out crowd. I actually like spiked the ball down and then I thought about it like, 'Oh snap, I'm going to get a personal foul.'
"It was fun. I actually sat down on the bench like, 'Dang, did that just happen?' My first forced fumble."
HALAPIO TO RETURN: Senior OL Jon Halapio (St. Petersburg Catholic) got three stitches after being inadvertently stuck in the eye during the game. Muschamp said Halapio's eye was bleeding on the field. He is expected to play Saturday at Kentucky. Other injuries: DL Leon Orr (New Port Richey Gulf) injured his shoulder; but should practice by Wednesday; CB Marcus Roberson (knee) could practice today and is expected to play; RB Valdez Showers (ankle) is doubtful. CB Loucheiz Purifoy (thigh bruise) and OL Tyler Moore (ankle) are expected to practice today; TE Colin Thompson (stress fracture in foot) will miss one to two weeks.
HELP WANTED: Muschamp is extremely unhappy with special teams play through three games and is opening up the punter and kicker positions.
POOLE OUT: Sophomore CB Brian Poole will miss the first half Saturday because of his ejection in the second half for violating the new targeting rule.
Antonya English can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at @TBTimes_Gators.