"Murphy! Murphy! Murphy!" These were the chants that resonated through the Swamp as redshirt junior Tyler Murphy led the #20 Gators to a 31-17 win over the Tennessee Volunteers. This is the Gators' ninth consecutive win in the series. When starting quarterback Jeff Driskel went down with a broken leg in the first quarter, it was up to Tyler Murphy to get the Gators out of a 7-0 hole. He rose to the challenge before him as he completed eight passes for 134 and one touchdown while also rushing for 84 yards and one touchdown.
The Gator defense played well once again as they forced six turnovers (two fumbles and four interceptions). Conversely, the Gators turned the ball over three times and fumbled a total of six times. Mistakes like these can afford to be made against a team like Tennessee, but against teams like South Carolina, Georgia, and LSU, this cannot happen.
With Murphy at the helm, the Gators' offense was clicking as they were able to air the ball out downfield and convert in the red zone. Murphy's athleticism adds another weapon to a Gator offense that has needed some flair. With his ability to extend plays with his legs, Murphy can be a real threat down the stretch. But I will keep things in perspective. This is only the first game he has played in for a good amount of time and the game was at home. Murphy's performance against Kentucky on the road next week will give me a good hint of the junior's poise and how he deals with a hostile crowd.
On a final note, my thoughts and prayers go out to Jeff Driskel and his family. Though I am not his biggest fan, he is still a Florida Gator and I support him. His injury is certainly an unfortunate one, but it can be something for the team to rally around as they progress without him this season.
*Stats accredited to Gatorzone.com