Florida V. Kentucky: Five Questions about Tyler Murphy, Prediction
More questions were raised than answered following Jeff Driskel’s season-ending injury against Tennessee last week. The only thing we know for sure is that Tyler Murphy is going to be the starter, presumably for the rest of the season. There are so many things we need to learn about the redshirt junior quarterback, starting Saturday night at 7 p.m. against Kentucky. Here are five burning questions about the new starter.
Can Tyler Murphy throw?
This is the main question I have after game one of the Tyler Murphy era. Lost amid the comparisons to Tim Tebow following Murphy’s 10-carry, 84-yard performance against Tennessee is the fact that Tebow can’t throw. More importantly, Florida doesn’t run Urban Meyer’s spread offense anymore. Can Murphy fit into Will Muschamp’s pro-style offense and make passes when he needs to? He made a couple nice throws against the Volunteers, but he also made some bad ones. Since the Gators might be able to handle Kentucky regardless of how Murphy throws, this week might be a good one to test out his arm.
Can he lead the offense?
One of the troubling things from Murphy’s debut was that he seemed a bit lost when he first came into the game. Within five minutes of coming into the game, UF had picked up two false starts, which effectively cost them a chance at scoring. Now, obviously the false starts could be pinned on the linemen, but Murphy could have been struggling with signals and play calls early on. It will be interesting to see how efficiently the offense functions after Murphy has a full week of practice as the starter. He may quell my fears as quickly as I got them.
Is there a reason he wasn’t the starter?
Tyler Murphy has been at UF since the 2010 season. He was a two-star recruit coming in. And he was never really part of the discussion this preseason as someone who would steal snaps from Driskel. For as upset as many Gator fans were with the way Driskel was playing, it worries me to think that maybe there was a reason Murphy wasn’t playing. Time will tell, obviously, but it’s clear he is an above-average athlete with at least some running ability. The answer to every question about Tyler Murphy won’t regard his arm, but I think it is crucial to see how he throws the ball.
How will he handle stiffer competition?
The real gauge of Tyler Murphy’s worth will be his performance against SEC heavyweights. Tennessee is far from one, and Kentucky shouldn’t be too difficult to handle either. A lot of players could look good and be successful against their defenses. It is critical that Murphy use these two games to settle in with the offense and prepare for tough back-to-back games against Arkansas and LSU. His performance in those games will probably shape how people think about him as a player.
Will he win?
This is probably the most important question to a lot of people. Can Tyler Murphy create results in the “wins” column? Frankly, no one will care if he struggles with throwing deficiencies as long as the Gators keep on winning. If the Gators beat LSU, Georgia and South Carolina behind Murphy, fans will be yelling for him to win the Heisman. If they lose two or three of those games, people will want him gone. And while it is always inherently unfair to blame losses on a quarterback, that’s the way things are. Especially with a stout defense like Florida’s.
I think Tyler Murphy starts off 1-0 as the Gators’ starting quarterback. Kentucky has a loss to Western Kentucky on their schedule already, and they just don’t have the personnel to match up with the Gators. However, I do think the game will be closer than expected. I think Murphy will struggle early on in his first road start but the defense will control the game and help him eke out a victory. The Gators are 11.5-point favorites on the road, and I don’t think they cover.
Florida 26 Kentucky 16