Tyler Murphy and the Kentucky Streak

Note: This was written before learning about the injury to Dominque Easley.

Unexpected consequences from the weekend, Gator Nation!

I have heard many different reactions to the news that Jeff Driskel was out for the season. The fact remains that he was our starter. His record in the last two years is 13-3 with wins over LSU, South Carolina, and FSU in that span. That demands respect regardless of the miscues and the missed opportunities (Miami, UGA and Louisville). So I’m not going to jump up an down that we have a new QB in spite of our offensive struggles. You do have to keep in mind that we will play the remainder of this season (UGA, @ LSU, @ SoCAR, FSU and Arkansas) with no QBs who have ever started in a Gator uniform or have started a collegiate game in their career. Sobering I know.

That said…..there is room for hope. I think being Jeff Driskel has been the hardest thing about him being QB. He’s thrust into the limelight. We’re told he’s in the mold of Tim Tebow (big, strong and fast). He’s expected to produce gaudy offensive numbers. I think in the last 16 games he’s tried to do way too much at times. It’s those times when he has tried to do more than he is actually capable of doing is when we turn the ball over multiple times in a game and lose. I’m not saying we shouldn’t have had high expectations, but some people handle the burden better than others. If you go back to the play where he breaks his leg, he held the ball way to long in the hope that the play would finally develop and he would have some place to throw it. Can’t knock the desire to win, but realistically, we needed him to throw the ball away and move to the next play.

Enter Tyler Murphy. Exactly how many of you knew who are backup QB was? Ok—now that you’ve fibbed a bit—how many figured he’d play the majority of just one game this year? Nice. Now we’re starting to come back to reality. Tyler Murphy had absolutely no pressure on him in the world. We need to praise the fact that he is very diligent in his preparations and was ready to go when called, but this guy has NOT been getting the majority of the snaps in this offense. While he had his miscues on Saturday, he never tried to do more than he was capable. He was solid, relaxed and let the defense set the offense up to score when needed. It’s gonna be really, really, really different this weekend at Lexington.

Last weekend, Tyler Murhpy woke up on Saturday “hoping” to get into the game. This weekend he enters having taken all the snaps in practice and expecting to start…on the road…against a Kentucky Wildcat team that really, really, really, really, really wants to end this streak we have going on against them. Really!

I liked what Tyler Murhpy showed us this past weekend and I’m optimistically hopeful this weekend where I will be in the stands for the game (Go Gators!). I do not have unrealistic expectations though. This will be the perfect environment to test his mettle on the road against a team that will try its hardest to win. They are undermanned, lack the speed and talent to keep up and will probably face what will be the best defense they will face all year, but they are inspired. Kentucky Coach Mark Stoops has a slogan that is everywhere in Lexington that says “Attack Every Play”. So while they will be smaller on both lines, they will still do this all game long.

The Streak has taken on a life of its own. Each more and more is written and, believe me, UK knows that they will never be considered a successful football program until they end it. They never thought that a cold, damp day in 1986 was the last time they would win against us.  The QB for Kentucky at that time was a guy named Bill Ransdall.  He played high school ball about 5 miles from where I grew up in Kentucky.  He was four years ahead of me in school and, while he didn’t go to my high school (which was 9 miles from my house..go figure) it was a big deal to have a local talent as the QB for a collegiate program.  It was a good win, but if you were paying attention to Florida in the 80’s it was not a conceivable notion that we were headed to be one of the conference dominant forces at that time.  We were good, just not that good.

Now 27 games later, the Wildcats are aching to end this streak. They were fortunate a couple years ago to end a similar streak to Tennessee. If they get this one off their backs, it will be like a quickening of epic proportions for them. They had two chances in the streak to end it and both occurred a decade at a part in 1993 and 2003. The most notable being 1993’s Wuerffel to Doering. What does 2013 have in store for us?

The streak is going to end. That’s why I don’t put much faith in them. None the less, even with our loss of our starting QB, we still have depth that Kentucky does not and a defense that will be relentless. That should be our saving grace, along with a solid offensive plan…and maybe a kickoff returned for a Gator TD. Join your local Gator Club this weekend where Victory is best served with Gators! ‘Nuff said.

Tune in tomorrow for the weekly game summary.

Go Gators!

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