To get more of an in-depth look at BC's new quarterback, transfer Tyler Murphy, we talked to Andy Hutchins from SB Nation's Florida Gators blog Alligator Army. As someone who has watched Murphy up close, we figure he could give us the best picture of what to expect from him.
1. As a UF writer, what did your blog and the Florida fans in general think of Tyler Murphy as a player?
Watching Murphy in practices and warmups until his debut in relief of Jeff Driskel, I thought he was well-cast as a career backup: He threw a pretty ball, but struggled to make good reads and quick decisions, and his athleticism went to waste in the pocket. And though Murphy played well while healthy early on in 2013, my read is basically the same, though I think he's less "career backup" than "career backup at Florida."
Murphy also went from beloved to reviled very swiftly, as he played very, very well against three bad teams in his first three games, then struggled for most of the rest of his season after being injured against LSU. He could have handled his departure better, too, but we'll get to that.
2. Tyler Murphy only started part of the season before he was injured last season. What were some of his strengths you saw?
Murphy has a fine throwing motion and delivers an accurate ball when he's not asked to drive it, and he's also a good decision-maker in the read option, which maximizes his skills as a runner. He was also a guy Florida's players seemed to rally around early on, and, though this isn't an on-field strength, he represented Florida wonderfully in press conferences; few players from Florida's program in recent memory impressed me as people more than Murphy did.
3. What were some of the areas where he struggled or needs to improve?
Prior to getting injured, it felt like Murphy's major weaknesses were decision-making — specifically in terms of being able to make decisions quickly in the pocket, rather than be forced into scrambling or improvising — and arm strength. After his injury, though, things got worse, and his accuracy and decision-making both suffered hits. Murphy needs to be better at consistently making the right play, and definitely needs to get better as a thrower, but it's hard to tell how much of the latter need for improvement has to do with his injury.
4. Will Muschamp's offense was anemic last year, do you see Murphy's statistics and attributes improving in Steve Addazio's offense?
I imagine Murphy will put up a better stat line at Boston College than he did at Florida purely because he's likely to be the starter from early on in his career, but he's also probably going to benefit from a more balanced offense. Florida struggled to pass-protect last year, and its running game, also enfeebled by injuries, put Murphy in a lot of bad spots that probably kept his numbers small. Even with the departure of Andre Williams, BC has shown that it can keep pressure off the quarterback by running the ball effectively, and that's going to help Murphy put up numbers.
Will that help Murphy improve as a passer? Probably, at least marginally. But I think Murphy's greatest improvements are likely to come with full health, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him merely return to the level of play he showed early for Florida, a nice ceiling that might prove to be more suitable against ACC competition.
5. What was Murphy's character like? Did he strike you as a leader, quiet laid back player, or somewhere in the middle?
Murphy's a quiet leader, and had been a good egg throughout his Florida career before starting. He's not a guy I can imagine raising his voice, but he was well-liked and respected, and that's what you want in a teammate, though he may have lacked some of the je ne sais quoi we like to see in quarterbacks.
However, the way Murphy and Florida parted ways reflects poorly on both parties. Reports had Murphy telling Will Muschamp he was going to stay for much of a week in December, then telling him of a change of heart at the 11th hour, then having a conversation with Muschamp that may or may not have included Muschamp disagreeing with Murphy's decision. (And while Muschamp is, obviously, a college football coach, he's not one I would expect to disagree with a player's decision to transfer on purely selfish grounds.) That saga is unlikely to be germane to Murphy's time at Boston College, but it bears mentioning when discussing his character.
6. When you think back on 2013, what were some of Tyler Murphy's highlights?
Murphy really was excellent against Tennessee, Kentucky, and Arkansas, mostly thanks to his feet and his ability to put the ball in places where Gators could do good things with it, but the unquestioned highlight of his season was a drive against Georgia that ended with a majestic dive into the end zone. It's at about the 41:20 mark of this video.
7. In the end how do you think he will do in 2014 with Boston College?
I think Murphy's good enough to play well for and lead a winning team that doesn't ask him to do everything for it. I don't think Murphy's likely to make Boston College a threat to win the ACC. But as stopgap solutions go for a program like Boston College, I would be pretty happy with a healthy Murphy.
Thanks Andy for taking the time to talk with us. Readers make sure to check out Alligator Army for all your University of Florida news.