Pease happy with Murphy's growth

When Tyler Murphy was forced into the game on Saturday, no one knew what to expect. In the back of offensive coordinator Brent Pease's mind was Murphy's bye week performance. The backup quarterback stood out. Credited by teammates and coaches for his preparation and positive attitude, Murphy wanted to make sure he was ready if needed. And then his opportunity came.

Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel was struggling in his second straight game, but he had the game experience that Tyler Murphy didn't. That didn't matter to Pease. He remembered the positive signs that Murphy showed during the bye week and felt comfortable in the offense.

"He was the one kid that was really, really noticeable," Pease said about the bye week. "I think he had an intent in practice, he was on a mission, he was going to get better. It carried over to the week of preparation of Tennessee, and I think he showed that he was prepared."

Teammates and coaches rave about Murphy always being ready. Florida defensive back Jaylen Watkins, Murphy's former roommate, told stories this week about teammates hanging out at a player's house, only to find Murphy tucked away in the corner watching game film on his computer.

That's when he was third on the depth chart.

He always wanted to be ready, and it showed on Saturday. Murphy went 8-for-14 for 134 yards and one touchdown, adding 84 yards and one touchdown on the ground.

"I thought he did a great job," Pease said. "It's always a tough situation to come in a backup role and perform at the efficiency that he did, because you don't get all the reps in practice with live reps.

"Our kids do a good job of taking mental reps. That's something we kind of make sure that they are working on and they are actually taking a rep, but they are not always underneath the center or in the huddle doing it.

Preparation is always a topic of conversation in the quarterback meeting room because Pease knows that the backup is only one play away from being under center. There are quotes on the walls of the room about preparation, making sure the backups are always ready.

Now that he's in the starting role, Pease hasn't seen anything change for Murphy. He always prepared as if he would be under center, and that will be the case when Florida travels to Kentucky on Saturday.

"I don't think it's stepped up any more," Pease said. "I think he's always prepared like he was going to be the starter, and it's always the same pattern that he's been on. I think Tyler's still doing the same thing, I've seen that from him and it's still a good amount of time that he spends on his own."

It makes it easier to prepare for playing quarterback in Florida's offense. The Gators don't expect Murphy to step in and throw the ball 50 times a game. They want him to manage the offense, get the team into the right plays before the snap and not make mistakes.

That's what he's hearing from the coaches this week. The Gators have one of the top defenses in the country, so if Florida has to punt the ball, that's not necessarily a bad outcome for the Gators.

"We're not afraid to punt the ball because sometimes at least at this level you've got to play some field position," Pease said. "Be smart about your decision making process because our kids on the other side are pretty good and somewhere along the line we'll probably gain field position and make some plays and move the ball.

"We're not afraid to punt the ball. We know sometimes at this level you have to play some field position."

Ball control didn't always look like the priority on Saturday. The Gators fumbled the ball six times in total, losing just two of them, but that's an area that has to be cleaned up this week in practice.

The most memorable fumble was on that was snapped when Murphy wasn't looking, something he quickly took responsibility for. He got on the headset with Pease immediately after and blamed himself.

"That's real easy to clean up. He knew. He knew what the problem was. We talked about being a self-corrector. He said he'd get it handled, so he got it handled."

DRISKEL RECOVERY: While spending the week preparing Murphy for his first start, Pease also has the job of consoling Driskel. He will have surgery on Wednesday to correct the fractured fibula and will be out 4-6 weeks, causing him to miss the entire season.

Driskel was in the quarterback meeting room on Monday and told Murphy and the other quarterbacks that he wanted to be around them and help out however possible.

"He's still part of our team," Pease said. "He's going to be involved. You've got to find a way to keep him involved because I don't want him to just disappear and not be around. He's got to be around. He's got to stay in tune with what we're doing offensively."

MORNHINWEG GROWING INTO BACKUP: With Murphy moving into the starter role, Skyler Mornhinweg now becomes the backup for Florida. The son of New York Jets offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, Skyler has grown up around the game and has natural instincts for it.

"I think the kid understands and he's comfortable. I don't know if he knows the volume of everything yet because you still have the growing pains of learning all of it. He's smart. He understands football because he's grown up around it. The thing now that he's going to lack is true game speed and getting in there where they actually hit you.

"That would be a next step we have to take. I don't think anybody in that situation would be totally ready for what Jeff's gone through and now I guess Tyler after a game."

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