Murphy encouraging Driskel

He's waited his time, and junior quarterback Tyler Murphy is willing to wait some more. More important to him than playing right now is winning football games and the staff at Florida has designated junior Jeff Driskel as the starter again. Now, he finds himself in a battle for back up duty and the guy that has to be ready in case Driskel goes down. Murphy seems prepared for whatever happens.

Tyler Murphy is the first guy that tries to keep Jeff Driskel level headed. There is a lot that goes on in the life of a starting SEC quarterback, worrying about public perception and the guy over your shoulder are things that are unnecessary evils and Murphy tries to help.

"Everybody loves the backup," Murphy told the media last week during a question and answer session. "I'm always telling Jeff, ‘Everybody loves the backup. People are always going to be negative about your play so you've just got to ignore that, block it out, and just play football. Have fun. Do what you do best.""

That kind of confidence has to be good for the starter and no doubt for Murphy himself for when his chance comes. In the meantime, he says Driskel is having a pretty good spring and the staff seems to want to form the offense more around Driskel's skill set… that of a dual threat quarterback equally dangerous with his feet. Murphy believes Driskel is getting more familiar with the offense overall.

"He's a lot more confident with his reads," The coaches have given him a lot more freedom to kind of adjust things that he feels better with and just put the offense in a position to make a play."

Murphy knows that Driskel's ability to run and his want to can lead to some time on the injury list, a place where the starter has been both of the last two years during after getting hurt during games. That means if Murphy is the backup, he needs to be ready all the time.

"Coaches are always saying with his style of play and being a physical runner, he can go down at any moment and you're always one play away," Murphy said. "So I always take that into consideration, the way I prepare, the way I'm out there practicing and just really helping other guys and trying to be a leader."

Florida head coach Will Muschamp and offensive coordinator have made it a priority this spring to have a backup quarterback ready. It is a concern for them and they stay on Murphy and fellow quarterback freshman Skyler Mornhinweg about being ready. The staff is expects a lot out of them.

"Just being a leader," Murphy said about the main thing they are looking for in a signal caller. "Just continue to progress and always take every rep and every snap as if it was a game rep. If Jeff goes down or something like that, whoever the backup is has to be ready. So I'm just trying to prepare myself as if I was the starter."

There has been times when Murphy has contemplated heading out of Gainesville. Ask any player on the team and they will tell you just how hard he works day in and day out. It makes sense someone like that may want to see the playing field. However, life at Florida has been kind to Murphy and he wants to stay and earn his right on the field.

"When you're not playing it always comes across your mind maybe that there's someplace else that best fits you," he said. "But it's just something that I've really sat down and thought about, and I just felt comfortable here. I'm enjoying it. And I always thought that if you just keep working hard, you'll get your chance. So that's my mindset, I just keep working hard.

"I've built a lot of relationships with guys on the team and stuff like that. It's a great program, I'm learning a lot at the quarterback position. So if playing never works out, which hopefully that's not the situation, then maybe I get into coaching after that or something like that. A lot of great coaches here."

One thing keeping him engaged even more now is the fact that he is getting more repetitions at practice. He is starting to feel more and more comfortable in the offense with all the chances behind center.

"I'm definitely getting more reps," he said. "I can't put a number in my head right now, but I'm definitely getting more."

"It definitely helps. You try to take a lot of mental reps so you know where to go with the ball and what's going on, but when you get out there you kind of have to put the physical standpoint with the mental standpoint. Sometimes your body doesn't work as fast as your mind does. So you get that kind of practice, it really helps you get better and progress."

Murphy believes he has the ability to perform well in the offense and is getting more and more familiar with the Brent Pease offense.

"It's an offense that I feel very comfortable in," he said. "I feel comfortable throwing the ball downfield with the routes and the plays that he calls. But then there's also some point where the quarterback is responsible for running the ball, and I feel comfortable with that. So I feel very comfortable in this offense."

Murphy talks about other units on offense

The Florida offensive line has been down to as few as six scholarship players this spring and that has made it tough on the offense. The few that are there are getting worked hard and a bit worn out against a defensive line that has pretty good numbers. Plus in some instances they are missing some probable starters.

Murphy likes what he sees in this rugged offensive line.

"I've actually been pretty impressed with the way things have been going with the offensive line," he said. "They're getting a lot of reps, so that forces them to progress, and they're getting better. They're building a lot of stamina and they're getting in shape so it just really helps them. I've been very impressed with the way they've handled the situation. They're tough."

The Gators have lacked pure play making ability at receiver over the last few years. With that in mind, the receivers are also a thin bunch and getting a lot of work. Junior Quinton Dunbar, seniors Andre Debose and Solomon Patton, sophomore Latroy Pittman, and freshman Demarcus Robinson have all had their moments.

"Dunbar is progressing a lot," Murphy said. "He's really stepped up and taken a leadership role. I really want to say Demarcus, as a freshman, he's stepped up and shown that he can make some wild plays. Pitt is doing well. Debose is really stepping up. Solo is doing well. So a lot of the guys are doing well and progressing, so I would definitely say Dunbar is probably making an impression. He's really stepping up to being a leader of the group."

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