The times they are a changing for Tyler Murphy. He has gone from obscure backup to starting quarterback for a nationally ranked team that has a chance to win the Southeastern Conference Eastern Division all in a split second. Now, the obscure second stringer who had never thrown a pass in a real game is Florida’s starter after leading the Gators to a come-from-behind, 31-17, win over Tennessee and he’s going to start the rest of the season because Jeff Driskel’s year is over due to surgery to repair a broken fibula.
Murphy’s new responsibilities extend beyond the field. Monday he got his first taste of what it’s like to meet Florida’s large media following head-on, but he handled that the same way he did the Tennessee Vols: with confidence, poise and without once second-guessing himself.
Here are some excerpts from Tyler Murphy’s first press conference as Florida’s QB1.
On getting an opportunity to be the starting quarterback
- The last 48 hours have been hectic for Murphy with friends and family blowing up his phone to congratulate him on his performance.
- Murphy didn’t have time to be nervous on Saturday but said he thinks there will be some nerves and butterflies this week.
Quotable: “I’ll have butterflies, I’m sure. I’ll be anxious, but, you know, I’ll get out there and maybe complete my first pass. Once I get hit, I think I’ll be fine. But I don’t think it will be as bad as it was this week.”
- Having a bye week before last Saturday’s game allowed Murphy to feel comfortable with the offense and what they were trying to accomplish against Tennessee. With less time to prepare for Kentucky, Murphy will have to cram this week to feel as comfortable as he did on Saturday.
- Murphy didn’t celebrate his accomplishments Friday night. Instead, he says he was eager to watch the game film to see what he did well and learn what he could improve.
- Even though he’s been a career backup and scout team player, Murphy has always prepared as if he was going to be the starting quarterback so his preparation this week won’t change too much.
- Murphy took responsibility for the fumbled handoff and the early snap that hit him in the facemask. He’s already learning that quarterbacks take more blame than they deserve and receive more credit than they deserve when things go well.
- After three years of going up against what he called the best defense in the country in practice, Murphy said he was prepared and ready to play when his number was called.
Quotable: “I think last year I did a pretty good job preparing as if I was the starter. I worked really hard. I was helping out with the scout team, so I was going against the best defense in the country. I’m not sure how I would have done last year, but I’m just happy for the opportunity.”
On his recruitment
- Murphy was only rated two stars coming out of high school and had just a handful of scholarship offers. He wasn’t on Florida’s radar until he sent a highlight tape.
- Murphy had committed to Al Golden and the Temple Owls when Florida invited him down to campus for a visit. Golden told him to go on the visit, which ended up changing the course of Murphy’s career.
Quotable: “Florida called me a few days after I committed and they told me they wanted me to come down for a visit. Me and my dad talked and we thought it would be a good idea to call Temple and let them know. So we called Coach Golden and told him we were going to consider taking a visit to Florida. He said he would encourage that because it was a program that not many get chances, a place that not too many people get a chance to play at. So he was very encouraging and he was really helpful to the process.”
- Temple and Florida offered him scholarships at quarterback but most schools wanted him to try out playing in the secondary and offered him as an athlete.
Quotable: “I wasn’t happy about it. I played quarterback all my life. I wanted to continue playing quarterback. It was just something I thought I was good enough to do at the next level, so I didn’t want to sell myself short.”
On getting up for the game against Kentucky
- Florida has ripped off 26-consecutive wins against Kentucky, so it’s easy to assume that the players could look past their opponent this week but that isn’t something the coaching staff will allow the team to do.
Quotable: “Coach (Jeff) Dillman reminded us this is another SEC opponent. If we lose this game, we’ll take a step back from reaching our goal, which is to play in Atlanta. Coach (Will) Muschamp is always preaching to us about nameless and faceless opponents.”