Friday, February 23, 2018
Colleges

Tyler Murphy emerges into Florida sunshine

GAINESVILLE

The last place Tyler Murphy thought he would be Saturday was standing under a spotlight on the podium in the media room explaining how he saved the day for the Gators in a 31-17 victory over Tennessee.

That's because before that, the last place anyone thought he would be Saturday was standing under center taking snaps as Florida's quarterback.

And that's because, before that, the last place anyone thought he would be Saturday was at the University of Florida.

He has been quarterback for the scout team. He has stood on the sideline. He has lined up as a wide receiver.

But until Saturday, Murphy had never thrown a pass for the Gators. Heck, he never played anything resembling a meaningful snap since high school in Connecticut four years ago.

That changed Saturday when he came on board to relieve an injured Jeff Driskel. Now the Gators' 2013 season rests in his hands and arm and legs with Driskel out for the season with a leg injury.

Before Saturday, the thought of Driskel missing the rest of the season would have had Gator Nation chasing Tums down with shots of Alka-Seltzer.

But considering Driskel's inconsistent start — three turnovers in a loss against Miami and an interception return for a touchdown on the play he was injured Saturday — Murphy's steadiness was and is a welcome sight.

Put it this way: So far, he at least seems to know which team to throw to.

He did have a comical snap-off-his-facemask fumble but otherwise was solid. He rushed for 90 yards and completed 8 of 14 passes for 134 yards and a touchdown.

"He's a great example of a guy who showed that when your number is called at (Florida), you better respond at a high level," Gators coach Will Muschamp said. "We are so proud of him of stepping up, playing the way he played. That's hard to do, and he did it well."

Here's the deal: Murphy probably shouldn't even be at Florida. He was recruited by a few ho-hum Northeastern programs out of high school — Temple, Syracuse, UConn — and ended up at Florida only after a tape he sent impressed then-Gators coach Urban Meyer and assistant Steve Addazio.

When Meyer quit and Addazio left and they took their spread-option offense with them, most thought Murphy would leave, too. But he stuck around partly because of friends he made in school, partly because he hoped to eventually play and — isn't this refreshing? — he wanted to get his degree.

"You can't beat a degree from the University of Florida," said Murphy, a redshirt junior who will graduate in December with a degree in telecommunications.

Last season, when it was clear he wasn't going to be the starter or even the backup, Murphy was asked to switch to receiver. He asked if he could stick with quarterback, volunteering to work on the scout team.

"I just love playing quarterback," Murphy said. "I've played there all my life."

Murphy moved up to second on the depth chart before this season and then, in one of those everything-happens-for-a-reason moments, Driskel was sidelined a week with appendicitis in early August, allowing Murphy to work with the first team.

"If you get reps with the first team, you have to make the best of it," Murphy said.

On Saturday, Murphy didn't just manage the game. He ran, extended plays, made accurate throws and, mostly, pumped life into what had been a stagnant offense in the first two games.

He never let the moment — national TV and all — get the best of him.

On his first two drives of the second half, he directed the Gators on touchdown drives of 79 and 84 yards.

"The key offensive drives of the game," Muschamp said.

Now true, this was against Tennessee, a team that gave up 59 points and nearly 700 yards a week ago at Oregon. Murphy and the Gators can expect a much tougher time down the road against the likes of LSU, Georgia, South Carolina and Florida State.

Nevertheless, the Gators still have time to put together a special season.

They appear to have an elite defense, meaning their hopes now rely on a quarterback no one knew before Saturday.

So far, based on Saturday, that would be a good thing.

Comments
Louisville must vacate 2013 basketball title, NCAA denies appeal

Louisville must vacate 2013 basketball title, NCAA denies appeal

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Louisville must vacate its 2013 men’s basketball title following an NCAA appeals panel’s decision to uphold sanctions against the men’s program in the sex scandal case. The Cardinals will have to vacate 123 victories including the c...
Published: 02/20/18
Center Molly Franson’s value to UT is easily quantifiable

Center Molly Franson’s value to UT is easily quantifiable

TAMPA — Coaches often point to "intangibles" — the subtle positive qualities that usually don’t show up in the boxscore — when praising their key players.But University of Tampa women’s basketball coach Tom Jessee has a different definition when desc...
Published: 02/13/18
FSU holds off rally in hard-fought win over Louisville

FSU holds off rally in hard-fought win over Louisville

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Terance Mann couldn’t mope over two missed free throws that could have sealed Florida State’s victory. There was still work to do on the other end to make sure Louisville didn’t take advantage. The junior guard quickly redeemed hims...
Updated one month ago
No. 23 Florida clobbered at home by Alabama

No. 23 Florida clobbered at home by Alabama

GAINESVILLE — Mike White hung his head.Florida’s coach scuffed his shoes against the hardwood, screamed into his hands and watched as his team let Saturday’s game slip away.With Alabama on a seven-point run 11 minutes into the second half, the Gators...
Updated one month ago

USF Bulls fall to Memphis

TAMPA — From its two-point home loss against UCF to its victory at Tulane, USF recently had provided its fan base encouragement in spurts. Similarly, its interior defense against Memphis on Wednesday night also came and went.With 6-foot-3 Tigers guar...
Updated one month ago
Florida’s shooting goes cold in road loss to Georgia

Florida’s shooting goes cold in road loss to Georgia

ATHENS, Ga. — The repeated misses were bad for No. 23 Florida. The failure to rebound them made the offensive struggles even more painful. Yante Maten scored 20 and Georgia recovered after blowing a halftime lead to beat the Gators 72-60 on Tuesday n...
Updated one month ago

Florida State beats Miami in OT despite 17 Hurricanes 3-pointers

TALLAHASSEE — Florida State’s Leonard Hamilton and Miami’s Jim Larranaga both have at least 33 years of college basketball coaching experience under their belts.Both might have experienced a first during their matchup Saturday.FSU and Miami needed a ...
Updated one month ago
Chris Chiozza scores 20 as No. 20 Florida routs Baylor

Chris Chiozza scores 20 as No. 20 Florida routs Baylor

GAINESVILLE — Florida point guard Chris Chiozza was feeling it, so he went with the flow.A pass-first point guard by nature, Chiozza decided to stay aggressive as a scorer and see what happened.The Gators were glad he did.Chiozza finished the 20th-ra...
Updated one month ago
Pro Bowl to honor UCF for undefeated season

Pro Bowl to honor UCF for undefeated season

ORLANDO — The NFL plans to recognize UCF’s 13-0 season during today’s Pro Bowl at Camping World Stadium.Players have been invited to walk out on the field for a celebration after the first quarter."When we thought about UCF and the amazing season the...
Updated one month ago
Michigan State athletic director retires in wake of scathing ESPN report

Michigan State athletic director retires in wake of scathing ESPN report

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis announced his retirement Friday, the day an explosive ESPN story detailing a number of allegations of sexual assault and violent attacks on women occurred with Spartan athletes.Hollis...
Updated one month ago