Murphy surprising himself

The internal clock in Tyler Murphy's head was ringing. It was time to go. He was running his first drive as the Florida quarterback against Tennessee, and he narrowly beat the pass rush of linebacker A.J. Johnson before scrambling for a first down. It was foreshadowing of how Murphy would impress the country in his first three games.

His pocket presence has been easy to notice. Murphy is calm and never looks panicked while running the Florida offense. He credits his intense preparation as a backup for it, but there are also natural instincts that play into his feel for the quarterback position.

That play against Tennessee was a clear example, especially coming on his first drive under center for Florida, as he slithered away from a pass rusher and turned it into a positive play.

"He could have killed me there, but luckily I was able to step up, avoid him and make a play," Tyler Murphy said.

It's now becoming a weekly occurrence. When Murphy turns on the film to go over his performance in the previous game, there have been a few plays each time that surprise him. When the pocket collapses and it looks like a sure sack, he finds a way to avoid it and create a positive play.

"When I go back and watch film, sometimes I ask myself how did I get out of that?" Murphy said with a laugh. "I just have to continue to just work on the pocket presence, being able to step through tacklers, keeping my eyes downfield and making throws. My offensive line has done a great job of protecting me and giving me lanes to step up and throw, and if I need to, take off."

Pocket presence was a struggle for previous quarterback Jeff Driskel. Murphy has found a way to remain calm while surveying the field and go through his reads. It hasn't been a surprise for the Florida offensive coaches.

"He does have good pocket presence," Florida offensive coordinator Brent Pease said. "The way he's maneuvering in there and feeling the pressure but keeping his eyes downfield, that's something we work on in drills. He's being very reactive to it yet he's still processing what's going on downfield."

Will Muschamp went to bat for his quarterback after Florida's win on Saturday. The term ‘game manager' has been used when describing Florida quarterbacks under Muschamp, and he was the first to speak up and say that he didn't think that was a bad thing, calling Tom Brady a game manager in the NFL.

Murphy said he doesn't mind that label. He has modeled his throwing game after another game manager that his multiple national titles.

"Since I've been here, Alabama has been one of the top teams. Watching them, I try to copycat A.J. McCarron a little bit," Murphy said. "He does a great job managing the game and taking what the defense gives him. His third year being the starter, he's making a lot of plays and put the team on his back a few times.

"Any time there's a guy with several rings on his finger, he's doing something right. A.J. has been doing a great job. Hopefully, I would like to be a national champion and win some SEC championships. He has been winning, so whatever he's doing, he has been doing it right. I'm trying to figure out what he's doing and copy what he's doing well."

With the game manager title, Murphy feels the Florida coaches are starting to trust him more. The passing game was conservative against Tennessee, but as the redshirt junior quarterback has proven capable of handling the offense, the Gators are putting the ball in the air more.

"I definitely feel like they're getting a little more comfortable with me being back there," Murphy said. "That's something that you have to earn. I have to keep proving to them that when they put the ball in my hands, I'll make good decisions with it. I have to continue to keep putting the offense in the right place. That's just constant preparation. I just have to keep preparing and preparing."


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