Murphy excelling by staying the same

Tyler Murphy had to gather himself. He took the field for practice on Monday before the team's game at Kentucky, and things were starting to change. He was forcing throws and trying to carry the offense, leading to a sluggish start to practice. It took some teammates taking him to the side and calming him down before Murphy settled in and put together a solid week of preparation.

The throws were high, there were more interceptions than normal and he checked some plays incorrectly before the snap. Murphy was trying to do too much when he got the ball -- and he knew it. The pressure of the Florida starting quarterback job was building, and he could feel it.

So Quinton Dunbar put his arm around him and had a conversation.

"He said just be yourself. Don't change," Tyler Murphy recalled. "Then some of the offensive linemen came over, and Chris Leak came over and talked to me and just calmed me down. (Leak has) been a good mentor for me since he's stepped here on campus. He has won a national championship himself, so I'm just going to sit there and listen to him and try to soak in as much information as I can."

The help from more experienced players helped Murphy slow down. The players hadn't changed. He was simply putting more pressure on his shoulders to be someone he wasn't. The coaches and players talked him into going through his reads and not making mistakes.

"I was thankful that it happened that day, and I was able to learn from it," Murphy said. "That's what practice is for. You come out and you give it your best and things may not go your way, but you have to learn from it and continue to develop and keep getting better."

What he struggled with at the beginning of practice last week didn't take long to change, and that's a big reason why the Florida staff has so much confidence in him. He knows the type of player he is and understands his strengths and weaknesses.

That's why there wasn't much fear when he was forced to take over the team when Jeff Driskel was lost for the season with an injury.

"I think that's one of his strengths -- demeanor and how he handles things," Will Muschamp said. "You want to be able to see those things; a guy who doesn't get too high or too low. He's extremely intelligent. He doesn't get caught in the moment as far as his emotions, and that's something you want at that position."

It was business as usual once the game started. Murphy said the nerves weren't more than usual, but even in his first career start, he looked in charge of the offense. Murphy finished the game 15-for-18 for 156 yards, one touchdown and one interception through the air, adding 36 yards and one touchdown on the ground.

He was a key part of the offense, even when handing it off. Florida offensive coordinator Brent Pease gave Murphy the ability to check runs at the line of scrimmage. On the 67-yard run for running back Matt Jones, Murphy saw a defensive look that Pease pointed out during the week and flipped the play to run left. Those checks are become second nature to him now.

"I'm getting really comfortable with it," Murphy said. "It's something I have to keep working at, but it comes with preparation and knowing the looks and what Coach Pease wants. I'm just going to continue to pick his brain, watch film and do what he asks."

Pease said Murphy is handling the same number of checks that Driskel did. The way that Murphy prepared as a backup has allowed the coaches to throw the full offense on him this year.

"I have a lot of confidence because he's been doing that," Pease said. "He ‘s sometimes the guy that's telling me, "Just relax, I have it handled." I said, "OK, you can." I think what I'm finding out a little bit more of is a pretty solid extension of a coach out there. I asked him a year ago if he was ever interested in coaching. I think he'd be a great coach. I think he thinks like that a lot."


Fightin Gators Top Stories