He spent most of the day scrambling, running for his life, shaking defenders and pulling himself up off the turf. Such was life for Tyler Murphy in his first start against LSU in Death Valley.
As a whole, the offense didn’t get the job done but it all began up front Florida’s offensive line, which was thrown around and bullied by LSU’s younger defensive line.
Will Muschamp sat in a tiny room adjacent to the visitor’s locker room, sweaty and dejected as he spoke about the Gators and how they struggled to control the line of scrimmage.
“We didn’t consistently control the line of scrimmage offensively,” the Florida coach said. “There were to many negative plays that put us behind the in the down and distance, which is very difficult to overcome against a good pass-rushing team.”
Murphy took the diplomatic approach, as most quarterbacks would. He took blame for holding on to the ball too long — at times he did — but he played admirably considering what passed for protection from the offensive line.
“They did a good job applying pressure.” Murphy said. “I didn’t do a good job getting rid of the ball. That’s something I’m just going to really have to evaluate and get better at because teams are going to do that all season. If I want to be successful and we want to be successful as offense that’s something I’m going to have to overcome.”
While Murphy took the high road, the offensive line took responsibility for their inefficiency. Jon Halapio was angry at himself and the line as a whole on Saturday.
“It was a line of scrimmage game,” Halapio said. “We knew that coming into the game. “We got outworked and outplayed. We just gotta do a better job preparing for stuff like this.”
Officially, Murphy was sacked four times Saturday, the most the Gators have given up in any game this season and just three fewer than the five previous games combined. Murphy’s mobility and ability to escape from trouble saved the Gators from giving up even more in the sack department.
Halapio blamed the performance on a breakdown in communication. The offensive line was coming off of both its best game as a unit and best for communicating with each other. They stood tall against a dangerous Arkansas defensive line but fell on their face against the Tigers.
“It was all on us,” Halapio said. “I’m not even gonna sit here and make an excuse. We’ve played in loud stadiums before and we’ve never folded like that. It’s all on us, we just gotta do a better job.”
Many people got carried away with their projections of Murphy after his first few starts. The team’s performance will likely bring those expectations down a little but Murphy never saw him self as a miracle cure for the offensive problems.
“I never thought of myself as the miracle guy,” Murphy said. “I was just the backup who had to step up and do what the backup is supposed to do and that’s to allow the offense to have a chance.”
So, it’s back to the drawing board for the Gators, who will travel to Columbia (MO) next week to face a 6-0 Missouri team that knocked off Georgia in Athens. Despite taking one on the chin in Baton Rouge, the team knows that all is not lost … yet.
“We still have everything on the table as far as Atlanta is concerned.” Murphy said. “We need to take care of the SEC East. It is wide open, and it is all in our hands. We just need to watch tape and improve on this Saturday.”