Murphy embraces shot to replace Driskel

August, 2, 2013
8/02/13
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel might miss less than two weeks as he recovers from an appendectomy, but until then the Gators’ offense belongs to Tyler Murphy.

The redshirt junior’s goal is to play well enough that Driskel doesn’t just automatically assume the starting job when he’s healthy.

"I've been waiting for this opportunity since I got here," Murphy said during UF’s annual media day on Thursday. "Of course, I would rather me and Jeff both be out there lining up and I would rather beat him out that way. My goal is to take advantage of the reps I get and hopefully when Jeff gets back I can stir up some problems in the coaches' office, where they may consider me."

Tyler Murphy
AP Photo/Dave MartinJeff Driskel's appendectomy allows Tyler Murphy a chance to make a name for himself.
Those are some lofty goals from a player who has appeared in just three games -- one at wide receiver -- and never thrown a pass. In fact, the 6-foot-2, 208-pound Murphy was just in a battle with redshirt freshman Skyler Mornhinweg in the spring to win the backup job.

But it’s really the best way for him to approach the situation and it’s probably the best chance he’ll ever have. He wasn’t a factor in the quarterback competition last season, when Driskel and Jacoby Brissett battled throughout the spring, offseason, and preseason practices to win the starting spot.

Now he’ll have a chance to work with the first-team offense for at least the first five or six practices -- albeit an offense without top running back Matt Jones (viral infection) and starting guards Max Garcia (back) and Jon Halapio (partially torn pectoral muscle) -- and he’s hoping he can repeat a piece of history he’s very familiar with from growing up in Wethersfield, Conn.

"My coach from high school reminded me about Tom Brady and stuff like that," Murphy said. "At the end of the day, I just want the team to be successful, and if that pushes Jeff to the next level, then I've done my job.

"I've just got to execute, take what the defense gives me, show that I can be the leader, show that I can get the offense in the right place, in the right situations and take care of the ball -- no turnovers -- and show that I'm confident and just have fun."

Driskel said there will certainly be a loss of rhythm and timing between himself and the receivers, especially the young ones, but he’s hoping to return within the two-week time frame. But he’s not worried about Murphy holding down the fort until he gets back.

"He’s always gone in with the look that he’s one play or one injury away from being the starter," Driskel said. "He’s really attacked the offseason like he should. He’s definitely going to get more reps than he thought here to start camp. He’s going to have to make plays, and I believe that he can."

Muschamp said the Gators are not going to modify their offensive plan while Driskel is out.

"We’re going to install and we’re going to coach the guys there and do what we’ve got to do to win football games," Muschamp said. "We’ll be fine."

Mike DiRocco | email

ESPN Jacksonville Jaguars reporter

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